An international coalition of BP investors announced the filing last week of a special resolution to be considered by company shareholders at the annual general meeting in London next month. The coalition, led by the U.S. Public Interest Research Group Education Fund, is calling on the company to adopt a public policy against drilling in protected and sensitive areas.
“BP contends that it should be allowed to drill in sensitive areas because it has the ability to operate in a manner that will not harm these unique places,” says U.S. PIRG Education Fund Arctic Wilderness Associate Justin Tatham. “We disagree with that argument. The best way to preserve biodiversity and important protected areas is not by making a 'best practices' gamble but to not operate there at all.”
Of primary concern is the coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. The coastal plain is currently off limits to drilling, but BP has not publicly stated whether it would, in fact, drill in the area if the U.S. Congress authorizes it.
“BP's record on the North Slope is one more reason why the company and the shareholders must examine this issue,” says Congressman Ed Markey (D-MA), who has sponsored legislation in Congress that would permanently protect the coastal plain of the Arctic Refuge. “A company's willingness to exercise care in environmentally sensitive areas will always be hard to credit if the same company does not embrace the protection of our most irreplaceable wilderness and wildlife treasures.”