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UUA challenges oil company’s political spending

Shareholder resolution questions oil company’s $4 million effort to delay California’s global warming law.
By Jane Greer
10.18.10

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The Unitarian Universalist Association is the lead filer of a shareholder resolution calling upon Valero Energy Corporation to reconsider its financial support of Proposition 23, a California state ballot initiative that would suspend California’s global warming law. Texas-based Valero is one of North America’s largest oil refiners and retailers.

The shareholder resolution asks that members of Valero’s board examine the corporation’s policy regarding its support for political causes. To date, Valero has donated more than $4 million in support of Proposition 23, which would void California’s 2006 Global Warming Solutions Act that requires reducing the state’s greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020.

The UUA is acting as part of a larger group of investors, including the Nathan Cummings Foundation and Green Century Capital Management, which have filed similar shareholder resolutions with Tesoro Corporation and Occidental Petroleum. (The UUA is a co-filer at Occidental.) The resolutions were coordinated by Ceres, a national network of investors, environmental organizations, and other public-interest groups working on global climate change.

“Our values compel us to protect the planet and to stand with marginalized people, who are disproportionately harmed by the impacts of global warming,” said Tim Brennan, the UUA’s Treasurer and Chief Financial Officer. “Valero’s extraordinary support for Proposition 23 delays the country from tackling an urgent human, environmental, and economic concern and puts our shareholder value at risk.”

Proposition 23 asks that the implementation of the Global Warming Solutions Act be delayed until the state’s unemployment rates fall below 5.5 percent for an entire year. This has only occurred three times in the last 40 years. California’s current unemployment rate is more than 12 percent.

The UUA has long been committed to environmental justice. Its General Assembly has passed thirty resolutions advocating environmental reform since 1962. In 2006, it endorsed a statement specifically addressing global warming and climate change.

Brennan said that the UUA owns approximately $15,000 in Valero stock.

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