Investors Target ExxonMobil Climate Risk StrategiesBOSTON, Massachusetts, May 24, 2005 (ENS) - Institutional investors from the United States and Europe representing nearly $400 billion in invested assets are supporting shareholder resolutions seeking greater analysis and disclosure from ExxonMobil Corp. about its management of the financial risks posed by global climate change. The resolutions will be voted on at the company's May 25 annual meeting.
The shareholders, who collectively own more than $3.5 billion of ExxonMobil stock, include state treasurers and pension fund leaders from California, Connecticut, London and North Carolina.
The investors will support a resolution filed by Christian Brothers Investment Services calling for cost projections, compliance timelines and other strategies for complying with the Kyoto Protocol, the international treaty that requires greenhouse gas reductions in dozens of countries where ExxonMobil does business.
This resolution won the support Friday from Institutional Shareholder Services, an influential adviser to institutional investors.
They will support a second resolution filed by Province of St. Joseph of the Capuchin Order seeking an explanation of the differences between the company's stated position on climate change and those of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, an international body of more than 2,500 experts that has concluded that human activity is contributing to climate change.
Some, but not all, of the investors are also supporting a third resolution filed by Sisters of St. Dominic of Caldwell, New Jersey calling for more energy and oil industry expertise among independent members of the company's board of directors.
"As a long-term investor and fiduciary, I encourage ExxonMobil and its board to evaluate and report on the company's financial exposure from climate change," said Connecticut State Treasurer Denise Nappier.
"The scientific community has told us that climate change is a fast-approaching reality, and there is a growing consensus in the business community that mandatory carbon constraints could come sooner rather than later. We want ExxonMobil to plan accordingly to protect the long-term value of the company and our investment," Nappier said.
In just the past few months, Anadarko Petroleum, Apache, ChevronTexaco and several other U.S. oil and gas companies have agreed to actions to reduce their climate risk exposure:
The actions come in the wake of record-high voting support last year for shareholder resolutions seeking more climate risk disclosure from oil and gas companies.
"Most of the oil and gas companies are taking climate change much more seriously than they were just a year ago, but ExxonMobil is a big glaring exception," said Mindy Lubber, president of CERES, an investor coalition that has helped coordinate the shareholder filings with the oil and gas companies.
"While peers like Conoco Phillips and British Petroleum are slashing emissions and investing in alternative energy sources, ExxonMobil is in denial on the science and making little or no effort to prepare for carbon limits and the growing demand for cleaner energy sources."
Chevron Hawaii Fined for Illegal Hazwaste StorageHONOLULU, Hawaii, May 24, 2005 (ENS) - The Hawaii State Department of Health (DOH) has filed a complaint against Chevron Hawaii Refinery, Inc. for alleged violations of the state's hazardous waste rules. The agency assessed a penalty of $107,000 against Chevron and has ordered the company to comply with state hazardous waste rules for the cited violations.
The Health Department cited Chevron for failing to make a hazardous waste determination and for storage of hazardous waste without a permit. The agency alleges that Chevron stored a heat exchanger bundle with K050 on its site for about five years without determining that it had hazardous waste and without a permit.
The heat exchanger bundle was encrusted with sludge consisting of K050, a substance listed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency as hazardous waste.
K050 is a specific refinery waste that contains heavy metals such as chromium.
The Health Department further alleges that Chevron failed to properly wash and remove the hazardous waste sludge from the bundle before sending it to another company to be recycled.
Chevron has 20 days to respond to the order.
The Chevron Hawaii Refinery is located on 250 acres at Barber’s Point, Oahu. The refinery receives crude oil from the far east and Alaska transported aboard one of Chevron’s tankers.
The tankers anchor at a mooring almost two miles off Barber’s Point and pump their oil to the refinery via a submerged pipeline. Chevron refines propane, gasoline, jet fuel, diesel, fuel oil, and asphalt from the crude oil. Once refined, the products are pumped through 23 miles of pipeline to Chevron’s Honolulu Harbor Marine Terminal for distribution.
U.S. Global Leader in Nanotech R&DWASHINGTON, DC, May 24, 2005 (ENS) - The United States is the world leader in nanotechnology, but international competitors are developing their own programs in this area, according to an assessment released Wednesday by President Bush’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology.
A nanometer is one billionth of a meter, and nanotechnology is the science and technology of building electronic circuits and devices from single atoms and molecules.
Nanotechnology deals with devices typically smaller than 100 nanometers and is expected to make a contribution to computer storage, semiconductors, biotechnology, manufacturing and energy.
The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) said in a statement that the Council assessed the multi-agency National Nanotechnology Initiative (NNI) and its work in coordinating the federal nanotechnology research enterprise.
Its report is entitled, "The National Nanotechnology Initiative at Five Years: Assessment and Recommendations of the National Nanotechnology Advisory Panel."
The NNI organizes federal nanotechnology research and establishes a research infrastructure across 23 federal agencies, each with its own distinct mission.
“This report is a thoughtful and highly informative assessment on the current status of the United States’ research programs for nanotechnology,” said OSTP Director John Marburger, science adviser to President Bush.
According to the assessment, the $1 billion the federal government will spend on nanotechnology research and development in this fiscal year is about one-quarter of the current public-sector investments by all nations.
Total annual U.S. research and development spending - federal, state and private - is about $3 billion, or one-third of the estimated $9 billion in total worldwide spending by the public and private sectors combined.
The United States leads in the number of start-up companies based on nanotechnology, and in research output as measured by patents and publications.
The assessment found that the NNI recognizes that the potential environmental and health effects and other social impacts of nanotechnology must be taken into account and is moving deliberately to identify, prioritize and address such concerns.
"The NNI should continue its efforts to understand the possible toxicological effects of nanotechnology and, where harmful human or environmental effects are proven, appropriate regulatory mechanisms should be utilized by the pertinent Federal agencies," the report said.
In the fiscal year 2006 budget, $82 million - eight percent of the total NNI budget - will be dedicated to addressing these issues.
One nano-health issue of concern was raised in April when scientists in Germany and Wales published studies showing that nanobacteria in clouds could play a crucial role in the spread of disease and in the formation of rain drops.
Red Tide Shuts Down Massachusetts ShellfishingBOSTON, Massachusetts, May 24, 2005 (ENS) - A toxic red tide of algae is moving along the New England coast causing the state of Massachusetts to close shellfish beds from the New Hampshire border to the Cape Cod Canal, just at the start of the shellfishing season.
In a letter Friday, Paul Diodati, director of the Division of Marine Fisheries, told selectmen and mayors of communities along the coast that the state has determined that bivalved molluscan shellfish and carnivorous snails from that area contain paralytic shellfish poison toxin, also known as red tide, from the dinoflagellate Alexandrium.
PSP toxins are responsible for persistent problems as they accumulate in filter-feeding shellfish, and they also move through the food chain, affecting zooplankton, fish larvae, adult fish, birds and marine mammals.
Crustaceans such as lobsters and crabs are not included in this closure.
State biologists said this outbreak is the worst since 1993, when red tide closed much of the Massachusetts coastline. Michael Hickey, the state's chief shellfish biologist, told reporters that state scientists detected the high level of the red tide toxin on Friday morning, but he said the shellfish in markets already is safe to eat.
Often paralytic shellfish poison is associated with red tides or algal blooms. Red tide is caused by an organism called Karenia brevis, which at high concentrations can make the water look red. The organism releases a toxin that paralyzes the respiratory system of fish and other marine life.
The organism causing red tide was for years known as Gymnodinium breve, but it has been reclassified in the taxonomy of dinoflagellates and given the new name of Karenia brevis. Karenia was chosen in honor of Dr. Karen Steidinger, a prominent red tide scientist from the Florida Marine Research Institute in St. Petersburg.
Red tide irritates skin and can cause itchy eyes, scratchy throats, and coughs. Officials warn that harvesting from affected areas may result in red tide poisoning symptoms including nausea and dizziness that may last for several days.
NOAA Considers Listing Eastern Oyster as EndangeredWASHINGTON, DC, May 24, 2005 (ENS) - The NOAA Fisheries Service announced today that it will review the status of eastern oysters, Crassostrea virginica, along the Atlantic and Gulf coast to determine if the species warrants protection under the federal Endangered Species Act.
NOAA Fisheries Service received a petition in January from the Ecosystem Initiatives Advisory Services to list the eastern oyster as threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act.
Since then, the agency has reviewed the information submitted with the listing petition, and determined it presents enough information to initiate a status review.
NOAA Fisheries Service will appoint a status review team over the next several weeks to compile the available information and evaluate the status of the species. Results of the full status review are expected in January 2006.
"Oysters can tolerate wide variations in the environment, but preliminary data suggest that their numbers have declined significantly, possibly due to both harvest and disease,” said William Hogarth, assistant administrator for NOAA Fisheries Service. "We will look at this very carefully and will determine if listing is warranted.”
NOAA Fisheries Service is asking for documented information for use in the status review, such as descriptions of current or past distribution, abundance, population condition, information on the existence of subspecies, and details on restoration and protection efforts. NOAA Fisheries Service is also accepting the names of recognized experts that could participate in a peer review of the status review.
The eastern oyster lives in North American estuaries, from the Gulf of St. Lawrence to the Yucatan Peninsula. Oyster reefs are a dominant feature of many eastern U.S. coastal estuaries. In addition to supporting fisheries, oysters and the reefs they construct provide shelter and habitat for many other estuarine organisms, improve water quality and reduce bank erosion.
U.S. Atlantic Coast landings of eastern oysters have decreased from a high of 160.6 million pounds in 1890, to 2.4 million pounds in 2003.
NOAA Fisheries Service will accept comments on today's announcement through July 17. For more information on submitting comments, contact Kimberly Damon-Randall, NOAA Fisheries Service, Northeast Regional Office, (978) 281-9300, ext. 6535, Marta Nammack, NOAA Fisheries Service, HQ, (301) 713-1401, ext. 180, or Jennifer Moore, NOAA Fisheries Service Southeast Regional Office, (727) 824-5312.
Alaska Beaches Oil Spill Cleanup Moves Ahead
KODIAK, Alaska, May 24, 2005 (ENS) - Now that the weather has cleared, cleanup operations are in motion on Unalaska Island, at the site of the Selendang Ayu wreck, called the worst Alaska oil spill since the 1989 Exxon Valdez. There are about 160 field response personnel and 21 vessels involved in the cleanup operations.
The 738 foot Malaysian freighter Selendang Ayu grounded and broke in two on December 8, 2004, just offshore of Spray Cape, Unalaska Island, Alaska. The vessel carried soybeans and about 470,000 gallons of fuel oil.
Most of the 470,000 gallons of oil leaked from the grounded freighter into the waters off Unalaska Island. Tar balls from the spill were reported on shore as far north as Makushin Bay, about 10 miles from the spill site. Oil was also spotted in Skan Bay, drifting north from the wreckage.
Rough winter weather has prevented cleanup crews from making much progress, but now the U.S. Coast Guard reports that Shoreline Cleanup Assessment Team (SCAT) personnel are working and have surveyed more than half of the 799 beach segments identified as potentially impacted sites.
Coast Guard Captain Ron Morris, federal on-scene coordinator, said "The shoreline has been divided into segments as an aid for geographical referencing for response personnel. The segments surveyed are approximately equal to 224 miles ofshoreline with some portion of 53 miles of those surveyed recommended for cleanup. The other 171 miles will not require further treatment."
"There is an estimated 245 miles of shoreline yet to be surveyed," he said. To date cleaning crews have collected at least 1,407 cubic yards of oily waste.
Officials hope to conclude cleanup operations by October 15 before winter weather closes in again. The responsible party is also devising a plan to deal with wreck removal in accordance with the state's requirements.
Impacted wildlife consists of 781 birds observed oiled but proved to unreachable because of the remote Bering Sea location. Twenty-nine birds were captured for rehabilitation, 10 were released, and 1,609 were observed to be dead. Mammals consist of 18 observed oiled, and six dead. None were captured.
New Jersey Holds Statewide Meetings to Stimulate Recycling
TRENTON, New Jersey, May 24, 2005 (ENS) - New Jersey is working towards a new solid waste management plan that focuses on boosting municipal recycling rates.
From now through July 8, the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is holding a series of public meetings to receive comment on the new plan.
DEP Commissioner Bradley Campbell released a draft update to the state solid waste management plan in March 2005 at the Association for New Jersey Recyclers annual meeting.
Due to court ordered changes in waste disposal and decreased compliance with municipal recycling, Campbell proposed specific measures to better manage the state's 20 million tons of waste generated each year, with a priority on waste reduction and recycling.
In order to meet the state's goal of recycling 50 percent of the municipal solid waste stream, an additional 1.7 million tons of material must be recycled based on current statewide rates.
The draft state plan quantifies this estimate not only on a statewide basis, but also by what is required from each county. The plan also includes an estimate of the statewide increase needed in terms of tonnage by material, such as newspaper, corrugated cardboard and food waste.
"To invigorate New Jersey's recycling program, we intend to bring the discussion to all parts of the state for new ideas," said Campbell. "Outreach to county and local recycling leaders is vital to help recycling regain a prominent role in our everyday lives."
All 21 counties will be required to update their solid waste management plans to reflect the new initiatives in the state plan. Each county will have to adopt a new plan within 270 days of formal adoption of the statewide solid waste management plan.
The county plans will have to identify local strategies to achieve the recycling tonnage target identified for each county. Also, the county plans will need to include methods for public promotion of new opportunities and methods for enforcing local recycling mandates.
Putting a comprehensive enforcement program in place will be essential to meeting the recycling goals. The county plan updates will identify the county and/or municipal programs responsible for enforcement of the recycling mandates, specify the minimum number of recycling inspections that will be undertaken annually and detail penalties to be imposed for non-compliance.
The new plan aims to expand recycling opportunities for various materials at schools, multi-family housing complexes, and small- and medium-sized businesses.
DEP solid waste and recycling officials will meet with municipal and county solid waste managers, elected officials, environmental commission members, recycling coordinators, school board representatives and the general public.
Two public hearings will be held as the plan moves towards final adoption, which is scheduled for fall 2005.
As part of the formal public comment period on the plan, the first public hearing will be held June 2 at the Rutgers University EcoComplex, 1200 Florence-Columbus Road, Bordentown. Directions to the EcoComplex can be found at www.ecocomplex.rutgers.edu
The second hearing will be held June 7 at the New Jersey Meadowlands Commission, One DeKorte Park, Lyndhurst. Directions to the New Jersey Meadowlands Commission can be found at www.meadowlands.state.nj.us.
Written and e-mail comments on the plan may be submitted by July 15, 2005 to the addresses listed below. At the conclusion of the public comment period, DEP will review and prepare a summary of the comments and provide responses to them along with a final plan.
The plan update can be viewed on or downloaded from the DEP website at: www.state.nj.us/dep/dshw.
Solid Waste Management Plan Meeting Schedule
Written and e-mail comments on the Plan update may be submitted by July 15, 2005 to Robert Goodwin, Email: Robert.Goodwin@dep.state.nj.us.