BP, ConocoPhillips and Caterpillar Quit Cap-and-Trade Lobby Group; PepsiCo Should Do The Same

Nooyi photoAlthough they never should have been a part of it in the first place, three major companies have exited the U.S. Climate Action Partnership (USCAP), a coalition of corporations and environmental groups. USCAP’s mission is to “quickly enact strong national legislation to require significant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.” The House has obliged and the result, the Waxman-Markey bill, is too strong for both the Senate and the American people.

Instead of taking a principled stand against massive government intervention in the energy economy, corporate executives argued that global warming legislation was coming anyway, so it was better to be inside the room when it was negotiated. This was the same argument made by pharmaceutical companies when they threw their support behind Barack Obama’s health care plan.

This argument — that it is better to be in the room than “on the menu” — turned out to be just plain wrong. Even with overwhelming Democratic majorities in Congress, the American people simply will not accept socialism. Even in the face of massive advertising campaigns funded by corporate America, the public turned out to be smarter than the selfish executives who were willing to cut deals that would take effect after they retire.

Corporate America should be on the side of its customers and shareholders, not a bunch of Chicago politicians for whom intimidation and blackmail are standard operating procedures. CEOs have an obligation to protect and promote free enterprise, the system that makes possible corporate profits. It is also the system that maximizes consumer choice and individual freedom for ordinary people.

Now that Billy Tauzin has resigned as head of the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), and global warming “science” is falling apart, it is time to make corporate America accountable. USCAP may have lost BP, ConocoPhillips and Caterpillar, but its membership includes some two dozen other big companies, including PepsiCo.

In response to PepsiCo support for cap-and trade, and a host of other anti-business causes, NLPC has filed a shareholder proposal asking for a report on the company’s lobbying priorities, and how they are established.

PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi (in photo) is apparently unwilling to defend PepsiCo’s public positions as the company has asked the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) for permission to exclude our resolution from its proxy and prevent me from speaking at the annual meeting in the spring. NLPC has countered that the SEC staff has already ruled that a similar proposal, filed by a JPMorgan Chase shareholder in 2008, could not be excluded. The SEC staff generally honors its own precedents.

The resolution reads:

Whereas: PepsiCo’s primary responsibility is to create shareholder value. The Company should pursue legal and ethical means to achieve that goal, including identifying and advocating legislative and regulatory public policies that would advance Company interests and shareholder value in a transparent and lawful manner.

Resolved: The shareholders request the Board of Directors, at reasonable cost and excluding confidential information, report to shareholders on the Company’s process for identifying and prioritizing legislative and regulatory public policy advocacy activities. The report should:

1. Describe the process by which the Company identifies, evaluates and prioritizes public policy issues of interest to the Company;

2. Identify and describe public policy issues of interest to the Company;

3. Prioritize the issues by importance to creating shareholder value; and

4. Explain the business rationale for prioritization.


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