Monday, May 3, 2010 517-999-3646

Ads Urge Shareholders to Vote for Coal Ash Risk Disclosure and Climate Goals

LANSING – A new ad in CMS Energy’s hometown newspaper urges shareholders to demand that the power company disclose risks associated from its creation of coal ash pollution and to adopt measurable goals for reducing greenhouse gas pollution. Two resolutions will be on the ballot for CMS’s annual shareholders meeting in May. The ad in the Jackson Citizen Patriot runs as the company is facing strong opposition to construction of a new, giant coal plant near Bay City.

Investors are concerned that CMS Energy’s poor environmental performance is putting shareholder value at risk. The ad warns that the price of burning coal for electric generation will be going up significantly in the near future. With the image of a home destroyed by coal ash in the 2008 Tennessee Valley Authority disaster, the ad cautions that “Catastrophe will cost us all.”

“Rather than waiting for Congress, I want our company to be a leader in setting carbon standards and to report to us on their progress,” said Jeanne Servis of Beverly Hills, MI. “I also want to see an immediate interim move to more secure storage methods to avoid costly and toxic coal ash affects on the health of communities.”

Appearing also on Google and Facebook, the ad is paid for by CMS Energy shareholders and the Sierra Club. Two CMS Energy investors – the Office of the Comptroller of New York City and the As You Sow non-profit organization – submitted the shareholder proposals. The ads recommend shareholders vote FOR shareholder proposals #1 and #2 that:

  • Plan for a more expensive carbon future by adopting quantitative goals for reducing its total greenhouse gas emissions and reporting to shareholders on these plans
  • Disclose all potential risks associated with toxic coal ash disposal and take steps to reduce exposure to these risks immediately.

“CMS Energy shareholders have an opportunity to send a message to their company’s management that making further investments in old coal technology is a bad decision, and this ad is a big ‘stop’ sign warning Consumers Energy and its shareholders that it is heading in the wrong direction,” said Sierra Club Beyond Coal associate regional representative Tiffany Hartung. Not only has David Joos of Consumers Energy refused to listen to the people of Michigan for years, he’s also refused to heed the warning signals from the financial industry about the risks of building new coal plants. Now maybe he will listen to the company’s own investors, who demand change and who deserve a company that is financially responsible.”

“CMS Energy’s own shareholders are telling the company to join the 21st century and invest in more clean energy, not more coal plants that put lives and jobs at risk,” said Hartung. “Going forward with the coal plant near Bay City will send Michigan backwards, jobs out of state, and the value of shareholder’s stock south. Consumers Energy should do the right thing, end its coal rush and invest in clean energy that will be good for the company and create Michigan jobs.”

A similar coal ash shareholder resolution filed with MDU Resources recently received 25.6% vote in favor of increased transparency on this key environmental issue – high enough for the company Chairman to agree to shareholder demands at its AGM. Investors in Southern Company, which dropped its own plans for a new coal plant in Mississippi last week, have also filed similar resolutions.

In December 2008, a 1.1 billion gallon coal ash spill covered over 300 acres in eastern Tennessee with toxic sludge. The disaster highlights the serious environmental and financial risks associated with coal ash. The Tennessee Valley Authority has estimated a total cleanup cost of up to $1.2 billion, not including the extensive legal claims resulting from the spill.


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