Person

Bernice Schoenbaum

Bernice Schoenbaum is an individual shareholder in the utility company Dominion Energy, and is active in submitting shareholder proposals that support a left-of-center environmental, social, and governance (ESG) agenda. Schoenbaum has notably submitted shareholder resolutions relating to Dominion’s use of mountaintop removal mining (MTR), lobbying activities,[1] and executive incentives that are supposedly related to “risky projects.” [2]

Groups like As You Sow and Ceres are allied with shareholders like Schoenbaum, and are responsible for coordinating many environmentalist proposals submitted to oil, gas, and utility companies. [3] As You Sow provided supporting documents for Schoenbaum’s 2015 proposal to Dominion concerning the company’s executive compensation incentives. [4]

Shareholder Resolutions

Bernice Schoenbaum submitted shareholder proposals to Dominion Resources in 2011 and 2013, both relating to the company’s sourcing of coal, specifically as it relates to mountaintop removal mining (MTR). Both proposals purport that the practice of MTR is in direct contrast with Dominion’s core values, which include minimizing environmental impacts. [5] [6]

In the 2011 proposal, Schoenbaum requested that Dominion’s board of directors publish a report that not only documents the company’s practice of obtaining coal through MTR methods but also states the company’s timing in regards to creating a future policy to eradicate this process. This proposal received a 9.2% vote. [7]

In the 2013 proposal, Schoenbaum not only requested that the board publish a report giving a time frame for ending the company’s MTR coal mining process but sought a policy to be added to Dominion’s “Sustainability Model and Scorecard,” as one of the company’s measurable goals. This proposal received a lesser vote, of 6.9%. [8]

In a shareholder proposal submitted in 2014, Schoenbaum praiseed Dominion Energy’s support for an increase in its use of wind and other environmentalist energy technologies. It then goes on to demand that Dominion to provide an analysis and projection of the costs of these new technologies, and the effect of these costs on ratepayers. This proposal was omitted from Dominion’s proxy vote. [9]

In 2015, Schoenbaum submitted a proposal asking that Dominion’s Compensation, Governance and Nominating (CGN) Committee set a new compensation incentive for its senior executives, based on specific and measurable reductions in the company’s carbon dioxide emissions. [10] In conjunction with this proposal, As You Sow, a left-of-center organization that promotes shareholder action, submitted a memo supporting this proposal, claiming that Dominon’s current executive incentives encourage the pursuit of supposedly “risky projects.” [11] This resolution received a 4.9% vote. [12]

In 2016, Schoenbaum submitted a proposal requesting that Dominion’s board create an annual report that discloses the company’s policies on lobbying, as well details concerning the company’s lobbying spending. The proposal also requests disclosure of the company’s membership in, and contributions to tax exempt entities that may be involved in writing or endorsing legislation. This resolution received an 11.3% vote. [13]

References

  1. “Engagement Tracker.” Ceres. Accessed December 2, 2019. https://engagements.ceres.org/. ^
  2. “Dominion Exec Comp GHGs Brief_2015.” Ceres. Accessed December 2, 2019. https://ceres.my.salesforce.com/sfc/p/#A0000000ZqYY/a/1H000000UYK3/A_6IHPiQNwzrWGbvebwhU8FTMdGsh6rjaCr1.WbMDXY. ^
  3. Rysavy, Tracy Fernandez. “Shareholders Take Action.” Green America. Accessed December 2, 2019. https://www.greenamerica.org/special-issue-guide-social-investing-and-better-banking/shareholders-take-action. ^
  4. “Dominion Exec Comp GHGs Brief_2015.” Ceres. Accessed December 2, 2019. https://ceres.my.salesforce.com/sfc/p/#A0000000ZqYY/a/1H000000UYK3/A_6IHPiQNwzrWGbvebwhU8FTMdGsh6rjaCr1.WbMDXY. ^
  5. “Report on Coal Mountaintop Removal Practices (D, 2011 Resolution).” Ceres, 2016. Accessed December 2, 2019.  https://engagements.ceres.org/ceres_engagementdetailpage?recID=a0lA0000002snVrIAI. ^
  6. “Report on Coal Mountaintop Removal Practices (D, 2013 Resolution).” Ceres, 2016. Accessed December 2, 2019. https://engagements.ceres.org/ceres_engagementdetailpage?recID=a0lA00000045SSDIA2. ^
  7. “Report on Coal Mountaintop Removal Practices (D, 2011 Resolution).” Ceres, 2016. Accessed December 2, 2019. https://engagements.ceres.org/ceres_engagementdetailpage?recID=a0lA0000002snVrIAI. ^
  8. “Report on Coal Mountaintop Removal Practices (D, 2013 Resolution).” Ceres, 2016. Accessed December 2, 2019. https://engagements.ceres.org/ceres_engagementdetailpage?recID=a0lA00000045SSDIA2. ^
  9. “Report on Energy Efficiency/Renewables Programs (D, 2014 Resolution).” Ceres, 2016. Accessed December 2, 2019. https://engagements.ceres.org/ceres_engagementdetailpage?recID=a0lA0000006iyS0IAI. ^
  10. “Link Executive Pay to Sustainability Metrics (D, 2015 Resolution).” Ceres, 2016. Accessed December 2, 2019. https://engagements.ceres.org/ceres_engagementdetailpage?recID=a0lA000000BImbQIAT. ^
  11. “Dominion Exec Comp GHGs Brief_2015.” Ceres. Accessed December 2, 2019. https://ceres.my.salesforce.com/sfc/p/#A0000000ZqYY/a/1H000000UYK3/A_6IHPiQNwzrWGbvebwhU8FTMdGsh6rjaCr1.WbMDXY. ^
  12. “Link Executive Pay to Sustainability Metrics (D, 2015 Resolution).” Ceres, 2016. Accessed December 2, 2019. https://engagements.ceres.org/ceres_engagementdetailpage?recID=a0lA000000BImbQIAT. ^
  13. “Report on Lobbying (D, 2016 Resolution).” Ceres, 2016. Accessed December 2, 2019. https://engagements.ceres.org/ceres_engagementdetailpage?recID=a0l12000002McKtAAK. ^
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