ConocoPhillips Pulls Out of Arctic Refuge Lobbying Group

Largest oil company in Alaska joins BP is withdrawing from Arctic Power, which promotes opening Arctric National Wildlife Refuge to oil and gas extraction

Published: 05-Jan-2005

ConocoPhillips, the largest oil company in Alaska, has dropped out of Arctic Power, the single-issue lobbying group that promotes opening the coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge for oil and gas drilling.  The decision by the Houston-based oil giant means that the two largest operators on Alaska’s North Slope - BP and ConocoPhillips - are no longer members of the Arctic drilling lobby group.

“This is a significant win for America’s Arctic, and we commend ConocoPhillips for listening to their shareholders and the American people and dropping out of Arctic Power,” said Athan Manuel, director of U.S. PIRG’s Arctic Wilderness Campaign.  “It appears that ConocoPhillips and BP are more enlightened than the Bush Administration when it comes to drilling in the Arctic Refuge.  Hopefully Congress will get the message and defeat attempts to allow drilling in the Arctic Refuge this year.”  

In response to ConocoPhillip’s decision, Green Century Capital Management has decided to withdraw a shareholder resolution filed with the company regarding drilling in the Arctic Refuge.

“As ConocoPhillips shareholders, we applaud our company’s decision to withdraw from Arctic Power,” said Green Century’s Michael Leone.  “ConocoPhillips clearly recognized that drilling in the Refuge would be risky business, and that participating in Arctic Power’s pro-drilling efforts was not ultimately in the company’s best interests.”

Over the last two years, ConocoPhillips’ shareholders and environmentalists have pushed the company to address the risks associated with drilling in the coastal plain of the Arctic Refuge. An Arctic Refuge shareholder resolution filed by Green Century received more than 9 percent of the shareholder vote in May 2004.  Green Century refiled the Arctic Refuge resolution in December 2004, but offered to withdraw the resolution if the company dropped out of Arctic Power.    

A coalition of environmental organizations and socially responsible investors first asked ConocoPhillips to drop out of Arctic Power at the company’s annual meeting in May.  A letter authored by U.S. PIRG and Green Century, (attached), went on to state that dropping out of Arctic Power would demonstrate to the socially responsible investment and conservation community that ConocoPhillips is no longer actively advocating drilling in the Arctic Refuge.  An October 2004 coalition letter to ConocoPhillips reiterated the offer. 

BP dropped out of Arctic Power in November 2002, after a similar campaign by the PIRG Arctic Wilderness Campaign, the World Wildlife Fund, and Green Century. 

Since 1998, the PIRG Arctic Wilderness Campaign and its partners have targeted the four oil companies that have expressed interest in drilling in the Arctic Refuge.   The campaign has filed 15 shareholder resolutions and generated more than 65,000 e-mails, phone calls, and letters to BP, ConocoPhillips, Exxon Mobil, and ChevronTexaco.

Resolutions have also been filed this year at ChevronTexaco and ExxonMobil that ask each company to report on the risks of operating in sensitive areas such as the Arctic Refuge.  These resolutions will be voted on at each company’s 2005 annual meeting. 

“We hope that these companies will follow ConocoPhillips’ lead in protecting shareholder value as well as the environment by withdrawing from Arctic Power,” said Green Century’s Leone.

ConocoPhillips’ decision comes at the start of the 109th Congress, which will likely debate the fate of the Arctic Refuge in February or March 2005.

“We hope that ConocoPhillips’ decision to drop out of Arctic Power will demonstrate to members of Congress that even the oil companies aren’t interested in drilling in the Arctic Refuge,” concluded PIRG’s Manuel.  “BP and ConocoPhillips recognize that drilling in the Arctic Refuge doesn’t make sense, and it looks like drilling there is not a priority for either company.” 
U.S. PIRG is the national lobbying office for the state Public Interest Research Groups. The state PIRGs are non-partisan, non-profit advocacy organizations

Green Century Capital Management, Inc. is the administrator of the Green Century Funds, the first family of no-load, environmentally responsible mutual funds.

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