Hurricane Laura Slams U.S. Oil Heartland

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Packing Winds of 150 Miles Per Hour, Hurricane Laura Slams U.S. Oil Heartland

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Hurricane Laura Hits The Texas-Louisiana Border

BERKELEY, CALIFORNIA—AUG. 27, 2020—Hurricane Laura made landfall early Thursday near the Texas-Louisiana border in the heartland of American oil refining and petrochemical production. The storm came ashore as a Category 4 with sustained winds of around 150 mph, taking direct aim at America’s petrochemical hub, an area with more than 60 high-risk petrochemical plants and oil refineries, and 49 hazardous waste sites. Hurricane Laura could inflict more than $15 billion in insured losses.

Rising ocean temperatures driven by climate change are leading to more intense and destructive hurricanes. Houston has seen three devastating 500-year floods in a three-year span. Hurricane Laura is the seventh system to hit the U.S., a record for this time of year, with three more months of hurricane season to go.

Over the past two years, shareholder representative As You Sow has voiced investor concerns about the growing risk of building additional petrochemical plants in areas subject to more frequent and severe hurricanes, storms, and flooding. Civil society is mobilizing to protect nearby communities harmed by foreseeable releases of dangerous pollutants; and climate-related costs to oil and gas companies in these areas will only increase as global warming escalates.

Investments In Areas Prone To Climate Change Induced Storms

A significant number of shareholders voted this year in support of shareholder resolutions filed by As You Sow at Chevron (46% vote by shareholders), Phillips 66 (54% support), and Exxon (25% support) regarding the public health risks of expanding petrochemical operations and investments in areas increasingly prone to climate change induced storms flooding and sea level rise.

Lila Holzman, Energy Program Manager of As You Sow, made the following statement:

“Investors have highlighted the growing risks from building petrochemical infrastructure in areas that are ground zero for increasingly stronger and more destructive storms. Companies must accurately account for physical climate change impacts in their planning processes that expose themselves, their shareholders, and their communities to avoidable and unacceptable risks. Hurricane Laura is yet another example of why companies need to shift their business model to a low-carbon economy.”

Danielle Fugere, President of As You Sow, made the following statement:

“Shareholders recognize the futile cycle of producing products that contribute to climate change while bearing the escalating costs of climate impacts. We are asking our companies to begin implementing viable business plans to thrive in a low-carbon energy market. As hurricane Laura reminds us, the time for change is now.”

For more information on As You Sow’s work on energy, click here.

As You Sow is a nonprofit organization that promotes environmental and social corporate responsibility through shareholder advocacy, coalition building and innovative legal strategies. Click here to see As You Sow’s shareholder resolution tracker.