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Thursday, May 16, 2013
On May 3, I took a day off from work to travel to Richmond for Dominion Resources Inc.’s annual shareholders meeting. Dominion Resources owns Dominion Virginia Power, the commonwealth’s largest utility.
I went to speak in favor of a shareholder resolution asking Dominion’s management and board to set a timetable for ending the company’s purchases of coal obtained through mountaintop-removal mining.
The board recommended voting against the resolution, and so it went down to defeat, as most shareholder resolutions do. But I thought I’d share my comments at the meeting with Roanoke Times readers, who might be particularly interested in the Dominion board’s cavalier response to the resolution. The board didn’t even try to defend mountaintop removal. Instead it just passed the buck and absolved itself and the company from any responsibility for the devastation its coal purchases are causing.
Here’s what I said:
“Mountaintop removal is a destructive coal-mining practice. It’s responsible for the burial of more than 2,000 miles of Appalachian streams, the leveling of more than 500 Appalachian mountaintops, and the ecological devastation of more than 800 square miles of one of the most bio-diverse regions on Earth. Dominion buys coal that is mined in this devastating way.
“The shareholder proposal is quite modest. It calls for a report to analyze the best way for Dominion to end its purchases of mountaintop-removal coal and to add this as a measurable goal in the company’s sustainability model and scorecard.
“Everyone, including Dominion, talks about sustainability these days. But there’s nothing sustainable about mountaintop removal.
“In recommending against this shareholder proposal, Dominion’s board doesn’t attempt to defend mountaintop removal but simply says. ‘we believe it is best left to the federal government to issue reports and regulations related to national policy issues’ like mountaintop-removal mining. This is a stunning abdication of Dominion’s responsibility to its shareholders and the community it serves.
“Mountaintop removal is a widely condemned practice. Being associated with it needlessly puts Dominion’s reputation at risk and belies Dominion’s claimed commitment to sustainability.”
So there you have it. Dominion and its board seemingly don’t care about the devastation their mountaintop-removal purchases cause. The board passes the buck to the federal government. So much for taking responsibility for one’s own actions.
It is past time for Dominion to give more than lip service to sustainability. It should join the growing ranks of responsible corporations that refuse to be associated with the devastating practice of mountaintop removal.
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