By Steve Milloy
February 6, 2019 - NIPSCO has announced its intention to exit coal by 2028. We want NIPSCO to explain to shareholders how the claim, below, is a benefit to anyone or anything.
Our shareholder proposal is below. NIPSCO is a subsidiary of publicly-traded NiSource, Inc.
Shareholders request that, beginning in 2019, NiSource annually publish a report of actually incurred corporate costs and associated actual and significant benefits accruing to shareholders and the climate from NIPSCO’s climate-related activities that are voluntary and exceed government regulatory requirements. The report should be prepared at reasonable cost and omit proprietary information.
NIPSCO’s purpose is to generate profits from generating affordable and reliable electricity while obeying applicable laws and regulations. Maintaining coal plants is the least expensive option for generating electricity per the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Coal Council 2018 report, “Power Reset” (www.BurnMoreCoal.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/NCC-Power-Reset-2018.pdf). Yet NIPSCO recently announced it intends to stop burning coal by 2028.
This resolution is intended to help shareholders monitor whether NIPSCO’s voluntary activities and expenditures touted as protecting the climate are actually producing meaningful benefits to shareholders and the climate.
Corporate managements sometimes engage in “greenwashing” ? i.e., spending shareholder money on schemes ostensibly environment-related, but really undertaken merely for the purpose of improving the public image of management. Such insincere “green” posturing and associated touting of alleged, but actually imaginary benefits to public health and the environment may harm shareholders by distracting management, wasting corporate assets, ripping off ratepayers and deceiving shareholders and the public.
For example, NIPSCO touted on its web site that it would be “reducing carbon emissions by more than 90 percent by 2028.” NIPSCO would attain this goal by shuttering its coal plants.
No law or regulation required or requires this reduction.
Carbon dioxide is not a pollutant. It is colorless and odorless and, as plant food, is necessary for life on Earth. NASA reports that higher levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere are greening the Earth.
Moreover, China is reportedly now adding coal plant capacity equal to the entire US coal fleet. Around the world, there are reportedly 1,100 coal plants under construction. In comparison, NIPSCO operates a mere five coal plants. So, what are the actual benefits to ratepayers, shareholders and the climate of NIPSCO’s bid to “reduce carbon emissions.” By how much, in what way, and when will any of these activities reduce, alter or improve climate change, for example?
The information requested by this proposal is not already contained in any NiSource report.
NiSource should report to shareholders what are the specific actual benefits produced by NIPSCO’s voluntary, highly touted and costly voluntary climate-related activities. Are the benefits real and worthwhile? Or are they just imaginary and greenwashing? Shareholders want to know.