Kinder Morgan Inc. senior management is in for a rough ride today at its annual general meeting in Houston, with First Nations representatives travelling from British Columbia to give shareholders a more complete picture of the risks they face with the project and Norway’s sovereign wealth fund backing a resolution that calls on the company to reduce its methane emissions.
From B.C., Chief Judy Wilson of the Neskonlith Indian Band and Rueben George of the Tsleil-Waututh Nations Sacred Trust Initiative are both making an “emergency” trip to Houston to warn investors against supporting the project, CBC reports. “Kinder Morgan has not explained the legal reality of our Indigenous rights in B.C. to the shareholder,” Wilson said. “Whatever is being represented isn’t the full story.”
She added: “It’s got to be pointed out that the opposition is backed by the recognition of our Aboriginal and title rights by the Canadian constitution, and the over 150 court decisions that were won by First Nations.”
Wilson and George will be able to address the meeting thanks to a proxy from the Comptroller of the State of New York, a Kinder Morgan shareholder. “The pair will speak on behalf of the New York State Common Retirement Fund’s shareholder proposal on sustainability, as part of a resolution seeking to recognize that environmental and social governance issues present a risk to business,” CBC states.
The delegation supporting Wilson and George will include attorney Eugene Kung of West Coast Environmental Law and capital markets advisor Lisa Lindsley from SumOfUs.
“We are expecting a strong vote,” SumOfUs Campaign Manager Emma Pullman told The Energy Mix. “The resolution has been backed by CalPERS, the California state pension fund (worth US$350 billion), holding roughly 4,729,000 shares in Kinder Morgan Inc. as of 2017, and the Norway Sovereign Wealth fund, representing roughly 20 million shares in Kinder Morgan as of 2017. In addition, Institutional Shareholder Services, the largest and most influential proxy advisory firm in the world, has endorsed the proposal.”
As well, “SumOfUs members used our pension tool to put 1,300 emails in to pension and mutual fund managers, urging them to vote for our proposal.”
At the same meeting, Norway’s trillion-dollar wealth fund will support a shareholder measure “asking for a report reviewing Kinder Morgan’s policies, actions, and plans to measure, monitor, mitigate, disclose, and set quantitative reduction targets for methane emissions from all operations, including storage and transportation,” it said in a statement. The Seeking Alpha investors’ blog said the fund, whose 0.87% stake in Kinder is worth an estimated US$352 million, “has been seeking to get the 9,000 firms in which it invests to disclose non-financial data such as carbon emissions related to climate change.”
A third resolution at the meeting instructs Kinder Morgan “to assess the impact on its portfolio of policies that would limit a rise in global average temperatures to 2.0°C,” Seeking Alpha notes.
Meanwhile, with politicians scrambling to meet the company’s May 31 deadline to provide “certainty” for the C$7.4-billion pipeline, two-thirds of Canadians say they would oppose governments pouring taxpayers’ money into the project. While a Nanos Research poll conducted last week for the Globe and Mail found that more than two-thirds of respondents supported or somewhat supported the pipeline, Canadians are “not hot on government money funding the project,” pollster Nik Nanos said, with 47% opposing and 20% somewhat opposing the idea.
As well, 65% said they were concerned or somewhat concerned about the impacts of a bruising interprovincial pipeline battle on the functioning of the Canadian federation.
“It gives him a mandate to move forward, but there should be a big cautionary note on this,” Nanos said of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. “This has put stress on the federation, and we have to make sure we have a balanced approach that reconciles economic and environmental aspirations. I think if there is one lesson from this, it’s that the average Canadian thinks we could probably do better, just in the decision-making process.”
That kind of nuance appears to have been lost on Alberta opposition leader Jason Kenney, whose speech to the founding convention of the province’s United Conservative Party called for “retribution against Alberta’s perceived opponents, from banks to foreign-funded opponents,” the Calgary Herald reports. Kenney said he would “go to court if necessary” to push the federal government to withdraw charitable status from at least two organizations he sees as adversaries to the Alberta oilpatch.
“For over a decade our energy industry has been targeted by a foreign-funded campaign of defamation to landlock Canada’s oil,” he told delegates in Red Deer. “The special interests that have targeted Alberta oil and not Saudi, Venezuelan, or Russian oil because they saw us as the boy scouts, the soft target. Well, if I am premier, those days are over. Alberta will no longer be a soft target. We will fight back for our economic survival.”
He also promised to go after private businesses that have the temerity to step away from the tar sands/oil sands. “If companies like HSBC decide to boycott our oilsands, our government will boycott them,” he said.
But in a commentary for National Observer, Patrick DeRochie, Climate and Energy Program Director at Environmental Defence, points to the special treatment and billions of dollars in subsidies the Canadian fossil industry demands and receives—even though the tar sands/oil sands only represent 2% of the country’s GDP.
“The industry likes to blame carbon pricing and environmental regulations, but the real reason for its competitiveness challenges is that the global shift to renewable energy is now unstoppable,” he writes. “Investment in the oilsands is drying up, and the big multinationals have already fled. As the world moves to tackle climate change, the dirtiest, most expensive, most difficult oils to extract and transport cannot compete for capital.”