Environmental Proposals Rejected by Stockholders

Article excerpt

A stockholders proposal that Kerr-McGee Corp. of Oklahoma City adopt a set of so-called environmental Valdez Principles was rejected Tuesday by a wide margin.

Frank McPherson, chairman and chief executive officer, said that while it has been an internal company policy for years to protect the environment, the company may not have been effective in making it known.

He acknowledged that environmental concerns will overshadow energy operations in the 1990s but said Kerr-McGee's internal policy addresses the issue adequately, and noted an Executive Environmental Committee has been established.

"It is clear the decade of the 1990s promises to be one of the most competitive," including the environmental front, McPherson said.

Company directors, however, recommended voting against the proposal, submitted by the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament. Stockholders reacted with 29.7 million votes against the proposal, 6 million in favor and 4.3 million abstained. About 70 percent of voting stock was represented.

"The stockholder vote demonstrates support for the company's existing environmental programs," McPherson said. "We are glad to know that our stockholders agree with our strong commitment to the environment."

Sister Theresa Gossen of Tulsa said although Kerr-McGee has adopted the Chemical Manufacturers Association set of environmental principles along with some 170 other companies, it should join other oil firms in making its policy public. She said the company's policy should conform more to the Valdez Principles adopted by many oil firms subsequent to the Exxon oil spill in March 1989 offshore Alaska.

"The environment is not peripheral to our company," Gossen said. "We believe this resolution is truly one whose time has come."

Gossen said the company's position was inconsistent, especially in rationalizing that placing a member of an environmental group on the board of directors would be catering to a special interest while adopting internal policy.

"To deliberately refrain . . . might even come closer to representing a conflict of interest," she said.

Kerr-McGee has spent more than $200 million on capital and operating expenses related to environmental protection and restoration since the mid-1980s, McPherson said.

In 1989, the company spent about $39 million on those programs. This year, those expenses are estimated to rise 56 percent to $61 million and then drop to about $37 million in 1991.

That compares to Phillips' 1990 budget of $99 million for environmental measures - a 30 percent increase from $76 million in 1989 - and Conoco's 1990 budget of $100 million - a 25 percent increase from $80 million in 1989. …