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Ecuadorians: Chevron’s $12b Pollution Liability Will Now Be Decided by Canadian Supreme Court After “Unjust Ruling”

Wed, 05/23/2018 - 3:23pm

A Canadian appellate court in Ontario today issued a “profoundly unjust” ruling today allowing Chevron to avoid paying a $12 billion pollution judgment owed to Indigenous people in Ecuador simply because it placed its assets in a wholly-owned shell company, said lawyers for the Indigenous peoples who won the environmental judgment in 2013.  The decision is unlikely to withstand review by the Canadian Supreme Court, they added.

The Ecuadorians vowed to appeal a decision from the Ontario Court of Appeal to the Canadian Supreme Court, which already ruled unanimously in their favor in 2015 when Chevron tried to block the case on jurisdictional grounds and other technical issues, said Patricio Salazar, the leader Ecuadorian lawyer for the Indigenous plaintiffs. “Canada’s Supreme Court already ruled in favor of the Ecuadorian communities in 2015 when Chevron used a different set of technicalities to try immunize itself from accountability,” said Salazar.

“We will continue to fight not only because of the need to realize environmental justice in Ecuador, but because this decision allows wealthy corporations with creative lawyers to achieve absolute immunity by placing assets in shell companies,” he added. “This decision must be resisted to protect the rights of Indigenous peoples from corporate injustice all over the world,” said Salazar.

“We are disappointed at a ruing that appears to allow a corporate polluter to hide assets in subsidiaries to evade liabilities for environmental harms caused to Indigenous groups and vulnerable communities,” said Luis Yanza, the Ecuadorian community leader who launched the lawsuit against Chevron in 1993. “If allowed to stand, this decision will cause tremendous human suffering in Ecuador and block entry to the courthouse for Indigenous peoples and vulnerable communities around the world.”

The Ecuadorian case – which began in 1993 -- has been broadly supported by Canada’s First Nations movement, which includes more than 600 Indigenous bands. Perry Bellegarde, Canada’s current National Chief who leads the Assembly of First Nations, attended the recent court argument in the case along with Phil Fontaine, the thrice-elected National Chief of Canada. Fontaine visited the impacted area in Ecuador last year along with Canadian Grand Chief Ed John; both were harshly critical of Chevron’s misconduct.

In a speech last month before the United Nations, Canadian Grand Chief Wilton Littlejohn also praised the “historic legal battle” of the Ecuadorian Indigenous peoples to “clean up truly horrendous pollution” left by Chevron on ancestral lands in the rainforest.

Separately, U.S. lawyer Steven Donziger – who has represented the Ecuadorians for 24 years and who has been targeted by a long-running company “demonization” campaign – took aim at the decision, saying the Canadian judges appear to have adopted an erroneous and deeply flawed “racketeering” ruling by U.S. trial judge Lewis A. Kaplan that relied on paid-for testimony from a Chevron witness who later admitted he lied repeatedly on the stand when he claimed Donziger bribed the Ecuador trial judge. Chevron’s misconduct in that case is now the subject of a criminal referral letter to the U.S. Department of Justice. (See here for background on Kaplan’s decision in an article by Greenpeace co-founder Rex Weyler.)

“Respectfully, it is our view that the three judges did not fully own their responsibility to make an independent decision under Canadian law rather than be influenced by a wholly erroneous finding by U.S. trial judge Lewis A. Kaplan, without acknowledging that the U.S. ruling relied on false and paid-for testimony from a Chevron witness who later recanted,” said Donziger. “The Canadian panel essentially let a U.S. trial judge substitute his judgment for their own and in so doing they have thrown up another obstacle to the ability of human rights victims to obtain justice from a private company.

“Our Canadian counsel is confident we will prevail before Canada’s Supreme Court and that’s where our focus will be in the coming months,” said Donziger.

U.S. Judge Kaplan is infamous for noting at the outset of the U.S. proceeding that Chevron was “a company of considerable importance to our economy” and that the Ecuadorian environmental cause was the product of “the imagination” of American lawyers. Kaplan also held undisclosed investments in Chevron during the trial, which was characterized as a “Dickensian farce” by prominent U.S. attorney John Keker prior to withdrawing from the case.

Prior to today’s decision, Chevron had lost three consecutive unanimous appellate decisions in the country after having spent more than two decades and an estimated $2 billion to pay 60 law firms to try to resist enforcement of the Ecuador judgment. After an eight-year trial in Ecuador that produced 220,000 pages of evidence, three layers of courts confirmed that the company deliberately discharged billions of gallons of cancer-causing oil waste into the rainforest when it operated there under the Texaco brand from 1964 to 1992, decimating Indigenous ancestral lands. (See this summary of the evidence against Chevron.)

Chevron, which had willingly accepted jurisdiction in Ecuador to avoid a jury trial in the United States, later vowed never to pay the judgment and threatened the Indigenous peoples with a “lifetime of litigation” if they persisted.

The latest ruling came as a surprise given that Canadian judges had seemed increasingly skeptical of Chevron’s “fraud” defense after evidence emerged that the company paid $2 million to its star witness, who later admitted lying under oath during a U.S. “racketeering” case targeting the villagers and their lawyers. The witness, Alberto Guerra, later admitted he had been coached for 53 days by Chevron lawyers led by Randy Mastro, who is now the subject of a criminal referral letter for his misconduct in the case.

Prior to today’s decision, 21 separate appellate judges in Ecuador and Canada have affirmed all or parts of the judgment against Chevron; only one U.S. trial judge, Lewis A. Kaplan, has sided with Chevron and he did so based largely on Guerra’s false testimony and a limited record that excluded all evidence of Chevron’s pollution in Ecuador. In today’s decision, the three-judge panel seemed heavily influenced by Kaplan, whose decision has been harshly criticized by objective observers and whose trial was called a “Dickensian farce” by prominent litigator John Keker. (See here for a detailed rebuttal of the Kaplan decision.)

In 2014, the Ontario Court of Appeal rejected a Chevron jurisdictional defense; that decision was affirmed unanimously by the Canada Supreme Court in 2015 in a 92-page decision. Last October, the Ontario Court of Appeal called the case “public interest litigation” when it reversed a Chevron attempt to kill off the litigation by imposing a $1 million costs order on the Indigenous groups. 

(For more on Chevron’s discredited U.S. racketeering case, where it paid a witness at least $2 million for false testimony, see here and here. For how Chevron lawyer Lowenstein has tried to mislead Canada’s courts, see here.)

Chevron also ran into trouble in Canada when evidence emerged that the parent company was using its Canadian subsidiary, Chevron Canada, to funnel billions of dollars in annual payments to the governments of Nigeria and Indonesia. Profits from those deals would then flow directly to Chevron in the United States, and not back through Chevron Canada. Chevron had tried to claim its subsidiary was a wholly separate entity that only operated in Canada.

Canada’s Supreme Court is known to be far more sensitive to Indigenous rights than the country’s lower courts, which does not bode well for the oil major, said John Phillips, a prominent Canadian lawyer who is following the case and advising the FDA.

The Ecuadorians also have attracted significant support around the world, with artists such as Trudie Styler, Sting, and Roger Waters backing their cause. Just this week, Waters posted a video excoriating Chevron CEO Mike Wirth for failing to take steps to end the case. Separately, 36 institutional shareholders recently sent a letter to Wirth urging him to settle the case; several accused the company of “materially mishandling” the litigation.

Kingfisher Puts Customers at the Heart of Sustainable Growth Plan

Wed, 05/23/2018 - 12:22pm

Kingfisher plc has set out its sustainability targets for the next seven years, the latest stage of its journey to become a net positive business by 2050. The Sustainable Growth Plan contains ambitious goals for Kingfisher’s operations, including a commitment to achieving 50% of group sales from products that help customers create a more sustainable home by 2020.

The plan aims to drive lasting change by translating sustainability into a language that connects with customers and the real concerns they have in their homes.

Over the last year Kingfisher carried out detailed customer research in five of its European markets to gain a deeper understanding of customers’ views on sustainability in relation to their homes. Through visiting customers’ homes and listening to their wants and needs to understand how they live today, Kingfisher found: saving energy at home has become top of mind; re-connecting to nature through indoor and outdoor space is a massive need; people are increasingly concerned about living in healthy and toxin-free homes, and a growing interest in smarter consumption

The research also showed that people find making sustainable choices hard work and it often feels too complicated or time consuming, particularly when grappling with an already complex home improvement project.

Kingfisher has applied this insight to its sustainability strategy, establishing four big goals which challenge its own operations and make it easy for customers to live more sustainably. These goals are: saving money by saving water and energy; living smarter by getting more from less, re-using or using longer; creating a healthier home and connecting with nature; and being part of a community that helps millions more people improve their home.

Pierre Woreczek, Chief Customer Officer at Kingfisher plc, said:
“The purpose of ONE Kingfisher is to create good homes by making home improvement accessible for everyone, and central to this is helping our customers live more sustainably. We’re proud of our achievements so far: over a quarter of our sales now come from our sustainable home products; 96% of wood and paper in our products is responsibly sourced; and we’ve saved customers £840 million on their energy bills.

“It’s now time to set our next milestones and we know lasting change will only come when we can help guide the behaviours of our customers. Sustainability strategies have typically focused on the ‘big wide world’ and told people what they should care about. Ultimately this fails to connect with customers. This plan is rooted in real customer concerns and in our commercial goals. We know we can have a positive impact on the people who shop with us, on our business, the communities we operate in, and on the environment.”

The goals are underpinned by 12 impact-focused targets* which include enabling a 50% reduction in customer energy use and a 50% improvement in customer water efficiency through products, services and advice by 2025. Kingfisher has also pledged to send zero waste to landfill by 2020 and ensure 90% of waste is recycled by 2025. The company will also continue to tackle poor and unfit housing through continued partnership and community programmes.

The targets have been developed with Bioregional, who are experts in the development of sustainable communities, and take the Kingfisher group further towards its long-term aspirations to embed sustainability across its businesses, and help customers to create good, sustainable homes.

– Ends –

About the research:
Kingfisher carried out extensive customer research across the UK, France, Poland, Russia and Spain including in-depth interviews and visits to customer homes. 

*The four big goals and details of targets:
https://www.kingfisher.com/sustainability/files/reports/cr_report_2018/Sustainable_growth_plan_launchreportFinal.pdf

About Kingfisher plc:

Kingfisher plc is an international home improvement company with over 1,200 stores in 10 countries across Europe, Russia and Turkey, supported by a team of 77,000 colleagues. We operate under four retail brands - B&Q, Castorama, Brico Dépôt and Screwfix. We offer DIY and home improvement products and services to nearly six million customers who shop in our stores and through our digital channels every week. Our customers are everyone wanting to improve their home, as well as the experts and trade professionals who help them. 

We believe everyone should have a home they feel good about, so our purpose is to make home improvement accessible for everyone. www.kingfisher.com

Igniting Employee Activism and Demonstrating Impact Take Precedence at 17th Annual Employee Engagement Summit

Wed, 05/23/2018 - 12:22pm

The 17th annual Charities@Work Employee Engagement Summit program June 27-28, 2018 in New York City will focus on tackling social issues and igniting employee activism, driving greater social impact through innovative nonprofit partnerships, aligning employee engagement to corporate purpose, and engaging hard-to-reach employees through skilled volunteerism.

Speakers include:

  • Tim McClimon, Senior Vice President of Corporate Social Responsibility at American Express, and President of American Express Foundation

  • Kirsten Morell, Senior Manager, Corporate Responsibility & Sustainability, Best Buy

    • Tiffany Calderon, Senior Manager, Community Relations, Best Buy

    • Jackqueline Lagratta, Integrated Digital Marketing Manager at Campbell Soup Company

    • Megan Maltenfort, Senior Manager, Corporate Social Responsibility at Campbell Soup Company

    • Danielle Holly, CEO at Common Impact

    • Andrew R. Davis, Global Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer, The Coca-Cola Company

    • Michael Carren, Head of Corporate Social Responsibility, The Guardian Life Insurance Company

    • Michael Bzdak, Global Director of Employee Engagement and Global Community Impact, Johnson & Johnson

    • Jerome Tennille, Manager of Volunteerism, Marriott International

    • Matthew Nelson, CVP Corporate Responsibility, New York Life Insurance Company

    • Heather Loftkin Wright, Director, Responsible Business, PwC

    • Katherine Freisz, Executive Director, Winnebago Foundation and Corporate Responsibility, Winnebago Industries

    • Peter Dudley, author, Corporate Social Responsibility Executive, most recently with Wells Fargo

    • And more

Register now: http://charitiesatwork.org/3BLregister

This unique Summit brings corporate social responsibility (CSR) leaders together to share trends and new ideas as well as drive greater social impact.

The Summit is made possible thanks to generous sponsors:

  • Pre-Conference Sponsor PwC

  • Summit Networking Event Sponsor Wells Fargo

  • Gold Sponsors Best Buy, New York Life Insurance Company, The Guardian Life Insurance Company

  • Silver Sponsors American Express, The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation

  • Bronze Sponsors 3BL, Aetna, Berkshire Bank, Bright Funds, Group Sales, Inc., Realized Worth, YourCause  

About Charities@Work
Charities@Work bridges the corporate and nonprofit sectors to achieve greater social impact. Charities@Work is an alliance of four nonprofit organizations – America’s Charities, Community Health Charities, EarthShare and Global Impact – that collectively represent more than 3,000 of the leading health, environmental, international development, and community nonprofits making a difference in the U.S. and around the world today. These four nonprofits exist to facilitate interaction and partnerships between charities, companies, and their employees for meaningful outcomes and impact for all.

FSC Launches Ecosystem Services Procedure

Wed, 05/23/2018 - 12:22pm

The Forest Stewardship Council has launched the Ecosystem Services Procedure (FSC-PRO-30-006), which aims to create incentives for the preservation of valuable ecosystem services in responsibly managed forests. This is a world-first in forest certification.

Ecosystem services represent a range of benefits, such as clean water, that people derive from nature. FSC-certified forest managers already preserve ecosystem services and bear the associated costs. This new procedure will facilitate access to ecosystem services markets by providing forest landowners, smallholders and communities with the tools to verify and derive value from their positive impacts on ecosystem services.

FSC’s new Ecosystem Services Procedures will verify the impacts on carbon sequestration and storage; conservation of biodiversity; watershed services; soil conservation; and recreational services

The procedure will be ready to use from 21 August, 2018. Leading up to this date, FSC will provide training for forest managers who want to use the procedure and for certification bodies who will evaluate compliance with it.

The procedure also offers businesses and governments a new tool to demonstrate and communicate the impact their purchases, investments and financial support are having on the conservation and restoration of forest ecosystem services. FSC will work with governments and private sector partners to test the most promising business models to deliver benefits from the Ecosystem Services Procedure. Some possibilities include:

  • Private sector investment. FSC will look to partner with major global brands to invest in positive impacts on water, carbon and biodiversity in the forests from which they source their raw materials.

  • Financial sponsorship. The new Ecosystem Services Procedure will allow financial sponsors of verified ecosystem services impacts to use FSC trademarks to promote their sponsorship.

  • Confirm contributions to fighting climate change. FSC’s Ecosystem Services Procedure can be used to verify positive impacts on both carbon and non-carbon benefits of reduced deforestation and forest degradation.

  • Impact investing. FSC would like to work with partners in the financial sector to explore how integrating FSC certification and FSC-verified ecosystem services impacts into strategies used by impact funds can bolster the case for private sector investments in conservation.

For more information on the Ecosystem Services Procedure contact Chris Henschel at c.henschel@fsc.org

About FSC

The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) is a global organization dedicated to promoting environmentally sound, socially beneficial and economically prosperous management of the world’s forests. FSC was created in 1993 to set standards for responsible forest management, offering businesses credible verification of sustainably produced timber and wood products and helping consumers identify these products from well-managed forests. Currently, 200 million hectares and more than 57,000 businesses worldwide are certified to FSC standards. For more information visit www.fsc.org 

For media related enquiries, contact

Alexander Dunn
Media Manager
FSC International
a.dunn@fsc.org

Hilton Commits to Cutting Environmental Footprint in Half and Doubling Social Impact Investment

Wed, 05/23/2018 - 12:20am

Hilton today announced it will cut its environmental footprint in half and double its social impact investment by 2030. With this commitment, Hilton will become the first major hotel company to institute science-based targets to reduce carbon emissions and send zero soap to landfill.

The company will also double the amount it spends with local and minority-owned suppliers, and double its investment in programs to help women and youth around the world. These goals are part of Hilton’s Travel with Purpose corporate responsibility strategy to further the United Nation’s 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda.

New consumer research reaffirms Hilton’s corporate responsibility strategy. According to a survey of 72,000 Hilton guests, social, environmental, and ethical considerations are central to their buying preferences, especially those younger than 25 years-old. The six-day survey was conducted in May 2018 and asked travelers if they research a hotel company’s environmental and social efforts. It discovered:

  • 33% actively seek this information before booking – of those, 60% conduct research even if the information is not easily accessible 

  • 44% under the age of 25 actively seek this information

  • 36% of leisure travelers actively seek this information, compared to 29% of business travelers

  • Female travelers (39%) are more likely to actively seek this information before booking than male travelers (29%)

  • Guests staying in Central/South America (46%), the Middle East/Africa (45%), Asia Pacific (41%), and mainland Europe (35%) are more likely to seek this information before booking

“For nearly 100 years, Hilton has been driven by our mission to have a positive impact on the communities surrounding our hotels,” said Christopher J. Nassetta, President and CEO, Hilton, and Chairman, World Travel & Tourism Council. “In this Golden Age of Travel, we are taking a leadership role to ensure that the destinations where travelers work, relax, learn and explore are vibrant and resilient for generations of adventurers yet to come.”

In April, Nassetta joined Patricia Espinosa, Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, to engage travel and tourism industry leaders in a “common agenda” to take action on climate change, implement the Paris Climate Agreement, and adopt science-based targets to reduce carbon emissions.

Hilton’s new 2030 Goals include the following environmental and social targets:

Cut Environmental Impact in Half to Help Protect the Planet

  • Reduce carbon emissions intensity by 61%, in line with the Paris Climate Agreement and approved by the Science Based Targets Initiative (SBTi)
  • Reduce water consumption and produced waste by 50%
  • Remove plastic straws from managed properties
  • Sustainably source meat, poultry, produce, seafood and cotton
  • Expand existing soap recycling program to all hotels and send zero soap to landfill 

Double Social Investment and Drive Positive Change in Communities

  • Double the amount spent with local, small and minority-owned suppliers
  • Double investment in opportunity programs for women and youth, including partnering with local organizations and schools
  • Contribute 10 million volunteer hours through Team Member initiatives
  • Double monetary support for natural disaster relief efforts
  • Advance Human Rights capabilities in Hilton’s value chain to eradicate forced labor and trafficking 

Hilton is already an environmental leader in the industry. Since 2008, the company has reduced carbon emissions and waste by 30%, and energy and water consumption by 20%, saving more than $1 billion in operating efficiencies. LightStay, an award-winning performance measurement system calculates, analyzes and reports the environmental impact at each of Hilton’s more than 5,300 hotels. Hilton will use LightStay to track its goal of reducing carbon emissions by 61% across its portfolio by 2030.

“The World Tourism Organization commends Hilton’s focus on sustainability, which is in line with our overall commitment as the UN’s agency that is dedicated to promoting sustainable tourism for development worldwide,” said Zurab Pololikashvili, Secretary-General of the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO). “Hilton has been our partner in this endeavor, raising awareness among customers with examples of best practices for the hospitality industry.”

“Companies play an integral role in solving our climate crisis,” said Sheila Bonini, Senior Vice President, Private Sector Engagement, World Wildlife Fund. “By committing to significant intensity emissions reductions based on science, Hilton is setting in motion a plan that will have ripple effects across the hospitality industry while providing more sustainable options for travelers.”

Click here to learn more about Travel with Purpose and the 2030 Goals.

# # #

About Hilton
Hilton (NYSE: HLT) is a leading global hospitality company, with a portfolio of 14 world-class brands comprising more than 5,300 properties with more than 863,000 rooms, in 106 countries and territories. Hilton is dedicated to fulfilling its mission to be the world’s most hospitable company by delivering exceptional experiences – every hotel, every guest, every time. The company's portfolio includes Hilton Hotels & Resorts, Waldorf Astoria Hotels & Resorts, Conrad Hotels & Resorts, Canopy by Hilton, Curio Collection by Hilton, DoubleTree by Hilton, Tapestry Collection by Hilton, Embassy Suites by Hilton, Hilton Garden Inn, Hampton by Hilton, Tru by Hilton, Homewood Suites by Hilton, Home2 Suites by Hilton and Hilton Grand Vacations. The company also manages an award-winning customer loyalty program, Hilton Honors. Hilton Honors members who book directly through preferred Hilton channels have access to instant benefits, including a flexible payment slider that allows members to choose exactly how many Points to combine with money, an exclusive member discount that can’t be found anywhere else, and free standard Wi-Fi. Visit newsroom.hilton.com for more information, and connect with Hilton on Facebook, TwitterLinkedInInstagram and YouTube

About Travel with Purpose
Travel with Purpose is Hilton’s corporate responsibility strategy to redefine and advance sustainable travel globally. By 2030, we plan to double our social impact and reduce our environmental footprint in half. We track, analyze and report our environmental and social impact at each of Hilton’s 5,300 hotels through LightStay, our award-winning performance measurement system. Travel with Purpose capitalizes on Hilton’s global scale to catalyze local economic growth; promote human rights; invest in people and local communities and preserve our planet by reducing our impact on natural resources. Our strategy aligns with the United Nations Sustainable Development goals. Visit cr.hilton.com to learn more.

What Works in Employee Financial Wellness Programs

Wed, 05/23/2018 - 12:20am

Join the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation for a webinar on financial wellness programs (FWP) and learn how your business can benefit by creating or expanding your FWP for your employees.

Nearly a quarter of America’s workers deem their financial stress as high or overwhelming, and about 40 percent of workers report they have more financial strain now, than at the beginning of the Great Recession. Employees’ financial stresses manifest themselves at work, resulting in absenteeism and lower productivity. Employers are recognizing the need to implement a FWP for their workforce and the number and sophistication of workplace FWPs has increased since the Great Recession. Employers now face an abundance of options and little objective guidance on how to choose the right program. This webinar will help employers of ranging industries, sizes, backgrounds and interests to learn about workplace FWPs and receive the tools and resources needed to introduce one to your employees. 

Register and learn more here: https://goo.gl/Ry6kS4

Smithfield Foods Highlights Charitable Giving and New Employee Programs in Full Release of 2017 Sustainability Report

Tue, 05/22/2018 - 6:20pm

Today, Smithfield Foods, Inc. issued the fourth and final installment of its 2017 Sustainability Report with the release of its Helping Communities and Peoplesections. The Helping Communities section focuses on Smithfield’s 2017 charitable giving within the communities where its employees live and work. The People section features new programs rolled out in 2017 that focus on keeping employees safe and engaged, and highlights employee talent development and educational opportunities.

“At Smithfield, it is our responsibility to be a good neighbor and do our part to help strengthen the communities we call home,” said Keira Lombardo, senior vice president of corporate affairs for Smithfield Foods and president of the Smithfield Foundation. “We bring our social purpose to life through the Smithfield Foundation, a nonprofit organization that acts as the philanthropic wing of our company, and the community outreach efforts of our people, and we are proud of our collective impact.”

In 2017, Smithfield’s charitable giving donations totaled $27.4 million in support of hunger relief, education, veterans, and other causes that align with the company’s industry-leading sustainability program. Featured in this section, Smithfield:

  • Donated 21.1 million servings of protein to food banks and hunger relief organizations across America through Helping Hungry Homes®, Smithfield’s initiative that works to alleviate hunger and raise awareness of food insecurity.
  • Donated more than $3 million to veteran-related causes, including supporting the Warrior Canine Connection’s Puppy Enrichment Center where future service dogs begin their training; the Virginia Veteran Services Foundation to support state programs for homeless veterans; and the Virginia Peninsula Foodbank mobile pantry that provides meals to more than 200 veteran families each month.
  • Provided millions in support of education in a variety of ways, including donating $3 million for multifaceted educational programs to public schools near the company’s headquarters, and funding $165,000 in scholarships for students in Virginia and North Carolina.
  • Contributed $85,000 as a sponsor of the National Conservation Foundation’s Envirothon project (NCF-Envirothon), an annual academic challenge that engages 50,000 high school students in real-world environmental problem solving. In addition, all Smithfield farms and facilities participated in the program through volunteering or donations to local teams.

“Only by unleashing the full potential of our employees, can our organization excel,” said Stewart Leeth, vice president of regulatory affairs and chief sustainability officer for Smithfield Foods. “Stable and prosperous communities support our ability to recruit and retain a talented workforce—a crucial ingredient to our success—and provide a good place for our employees to live.”

The People section of the report provides information about Smithfield’s ongoing efforts to enhance workplace safety, employee training and engagement, and health and wellness activities. In 2017, Smithfield:

  • Launched the Smithfield Injury Prevention System (SIPS), driving further improvements to the company’s worker safety program, and aligning with the International Standards Organization (ISO) 45001 standards, the international management system created specifically for safety and health.
  • Decreased Total Incident Frequency Rate (TIFR) by nearly eight percent from 2016; Smithfield’s TIFR has consistently been below the industry average since 2006.
  • Received national worker safety awards for more than 30 facilities.
  • Provided $849,000 in tuition assistance to employees pursuing higher education.
  • Awarded $660,000 in Smithfield Foundation scholarships to 144 employees’ children and grandchildren of employees.
  • Created a new Military Fellowship Program, an 18-month rotational leadership development program for high-caliber, recently transitioned military leaders.
  • Rolled out Operation 4000!, an initiative to employ 4,000 veterans by 2020, as well as Smithfield Salutes, a veterans-focused Employee Resource Group, to ease the transition of veterans into the company and provide support resources for existing employees with prior military service.

“Our people are our greatest asset and it is their unwavering dedication that makes this company successful, and for that I am grateful each and every day,” said Kenneth M. Sullivan, president and chief executive officer for Smithfield Foods. “We invest heavily in all pillars of our sustainability program because what is best for our people, our communities, our animals, and the environment is what is best for our company, underpinning everything that goes into producing good food the right way, the sustainable way.” 

Additional 2017 Sustainability Report sections also released today include InnovationInternational Operations, and Governance & Management, along with key metrics that capture the company’s sustainability performance. Collectively, all sections illustrate how Smithfield’s sustainability program creates value for the company and its stakeholders.

To view an introductory video about Smithfield’s commitment to Helping Communities and People, click here and here. This release follows the Animal CareEnvironment, and Food Safety and Quality report sections published earlier this month. The complete report is available at smithfieldfoods.com/2017report.

About Smithfield Foods

Smithfield Foods is a $15 billion global food company and the world’s largest pork processor and hog producer. In the United States, the company is also the leader in numerous packaged meats categories with popular brands including SmithfieldⓇ, EckrichⓇ, Nathan’s FamousⓇ, FarmlandⓇ, ArmourⓇ, Farmer JohnⓇ, KretschmarⓇ, John

MorrellⓇ, Cook’sⓇ, GwaltneyⓇ, CarandoⓇ, MargheritaⓇ, Curly’sⓇ, Healthy OnesⓇ, MorlinyⓇ, KrakusⓇ and BerlinkiⓇ. Smithfield Foods is committed to providing good food in a responsible way and maintains robust animal care, community involvement, employee safety, environmental and food safety and quality programs. For more information, visit www.smithfieldfoods.com.

Wynn Resorts Issues 2017 Global Sustainability Report

Tue, 05/22/2018 - 3:20pm

Wynn Resorts today issued its 2017 Global Sustainability Report, providing a comprehensive view of the Company’s commitment to responsible business practices, corporate culture, environmental protection, and community service. The report also outlines several new initiatives supporting employee diversity and gender equity at the Company, reinforcing why Wynn Resorts continues to remain the industry employer of choice. 

In a forward to the report, Wynn Resorts CEO Matt Maddox remarked, “We work to be the leader in community development, in environmental stewardship and in developing new leaders both inside and outside the company.” Maddox continued, “Over the years, the culture of Wynn Resorts and the individual passion of our employees has made giving back a part of who we are. No corporate program can replicate authentic compassion, and we continue to harness this powerful spirit.” 

Detailed in the report are actions taken throughout the year in several key areas: corporate governance, global growth, workforce development, major philanthropic efforts, responsible sourcing, and prioritizing a healthy planet. New to this year’s report is an overview of the Company’s substantial investment in pioneering solar- and battery-powered clean energy solutions, as well as environmental cleanup efforts at the Encore Boston Harbor site, that have moved Wynn Resorts into a leadership position in environmental stewardship.

From among the many examples throughout the report, highlights include:

  • Creation of the Wynn Resorts Culture and Community Department, which supports diversity and inclusion, gender equality, fair treatment in the workplace, and employee charitable efforts. In addition, several new benefits have been introduced including paid parental leave, an industry first for a casino resort in Nevada.

  • Introduction of the Women’s Leadership Forum, designed to further close the gender gap in management, provide career growth opportunities for female employees at all levels, create pay and title equity, and ensure a safe workplace.

  • More than $24 million and 22,000 employee volunteer hours donated to hundreds of charities, or invested in local communities on behalf of Wynn Resorts in Las Vegas, Boston, and Macau, including relief efforts after Typhoon Hato in Macau and Hurricane Harvey in Houston.

  • Widespread Las Vegas elementary schools support, including Wynn’s innovative “Adopt-A-Classroom” program at Dean Petersen Elementary School that helped increase teacher retention rates, test scores, and the school’s overall rating by the Clark County school district.

  • Construction and opening of a Crisis Intervention Center serving homeless Veterans, created in partnership with the non-profit organization Veterans Village Las Vegas and hundreds of local trade companies that donated more than $1 million in materials.

  • Extensive Remediation of the Encore Boston Harbor site, fixing decades of untold damage done by a former chemical plant that destroyed 630,000 tons of soil over 33 acres. This included the creation of a “living shoreline” along the Mystic River, meaning that more than seven acres of shoreline was restored to a natural state, improving water equality and increasing biodiversity.

  • $12 million investment in solar energy, including the opening of the Wynn Solar Facility, a 160-acre solar facility that is currently powering 75% of the peak power needs at Wynn Las Vegas and Encore. The Facility will eventually provide 100% of the power requirements for Wynn’s new lagoon and convention space expansion. The solar energy effort also includes the installation of 103,000 square feet of solar panels on Wynn’s rooftop.

Wynn Resorts has issued its 2017 Global Sustainability Report with data that references relevant Global Reporting Index (GRI) Standards. The report, along with more information on Wynn Resorts, can be found at www.wynnresorts.com/sustainability.

About Wynn Resorts

Wynn Resorts, Limited is traded on the Nasdaq Global Select Market under the ticker symbol WYNN and is part of the S&P 500 Index. Wynn Resorts owns and operates Wynn Las Vegas (wynnlasvegas.com), Wynn Macau (wynnmacau.com) and Wynn Palace, Cotai (wynnpalace.com).

Wynn and Encore Las Vegas feature two luxury hotel towers with a total of 4,750 spacious hotel rooms, suites and villas, approximately 192,000 square feet of casino space, 22 dining experiences featuring signature chefs and 11 bars, two award-winning spas, approximately 290,000 square feet of meeting and convention space, approximately 110,000 square feet of retail space as well as two showrooms; three nightclubs, a beach club and recreation and leisure facilities. A luxury retail Strip-front expansion, Wynn Plaza, is currently under construction and is scheduled to debut in the second half of 2018.

Wynn Macau is a luxury hotel and casino resort located in the Macau Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China with two luxury hotel towers with a total of 1,008 spacious rooms and suites, approximately 273,000 square feet of casino space, casual and fine dining in eight restaurants, approximately 31,000 square feet of meeting and convention space, approximately 59,000 square feet of retail space, and recreation and leisure facilities including two opulent spas, a salon and a rotunda show.

Wynn Palace is a luxury integrated resort in Macau. Designed as a floral-themed destination, it boasts 1,706 exquisite rooms, suites and villas, approximately 420,000 square feet of casino space, 11 food and beverage outlets, approximately 37,000 square feet of meeting and convention space, approximately 106,000 square feet of designer retail, SkyCabs that traverse an eight-acre Performance Lake, an extensive collection of rare art, a lush spa, salon and recreation and leisure facilities.

Wynn Resorts is currently constructing Encore Boston Harbor located in Everett, Massachusetts.

# # #

Contact:
Deanna Pettit-Irestone, Wynn Las Vegas
702-770-2121
deanna.pettit@wynnlasvegas.com

Xcel Energy Cuts Carbon Emissions 35 Percent

Tue, 05/22/2018 - 3:20pm

Xcel Energy is a step closer to achieving one of the most aggressive carbon-reduction goals in the industry. Today, the company announced it cut carbon emissions 35 percent, according to its newly released Corporate Responsibility Report. This puts Xcel Energy on track to reach or exceed its ambitious goal of reducing carbon emissions 60 percent by 2030 from 2005 levels.

“We’re on a path to provide a more sustainable, prosperous energy future and believe reducing carbon emissions while enhancing affordability is a tremendous benefit for the customers and communities we serve,” said Ben Fowke, chairman, president and CEO of Xcel Energy. 

Xcel Energy surpassed the U.S. commitment under the Paris Climate Accord in 2016, which called for a 26 to 28 percent reduction in carbon emissions by 2025. It’s now working to achieve a 50 percent reduction in carbon emissions by 2022 from 2005 levels. 

The company plans to continue reducing its environmental footprint with an energy mix that is projected to be 60 percent carbon free in 2022. This transition to cleaner energy involves retiring aging coal plants and replacing their energy with a combination of wind and solar power and using natural gas as backup. Much of the energy will come from wind power, as Xcel Energy will more than double its wind generation with 12 new wind farms in seven states. These new energy sources are complemented by two key sources — the company’s broad array of advanced customer energy efficiency programs and the continued efficient operation of its carbon-free nuclear plants in the Upper Midwest. 

Other highlights detailed in the report include:

  • Forty percent carbon-free electricity provided to customers in 2017, about half generated by wind energy.

  • The retirement of 20 coal units from 2005 to 2026, representing 40 percent of its coal-powered capacity.

  • Customers’ annual energy savings through the company’s efficiency programs were equivalent to powering 152,000 average homes with electricity and fueling 21,000 homes with natural gas.

  • Emissions of sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides are down more than 70 percent and water consumption decreased 40 percent from 2005 levels. 

  • A decline in the average Xcel Energy residential electricity and natural gas bill over the past five years which results in keeping bills flat overall.

  • Community investment of $72.9 million in 2017, which includes support for energy assistance that helped customers in need, volunteer programs and  grants through the Xcel Energy Foundation to nonprofits for STEM education, economic sustainability, environmental stewardship and arts and culture. 

The 2017 Corporate Responsibility Report tracks economic, environmental and social performance and includes information related to the environment, safety, economic development, community giving and workplace programs.

About Xcel Energy

Xcel Energy (NASDAQ: XEL) provides the energy that powers millions of homes and businesses across eight Western and Midwestern states. Headquartered in Minneapolis, the company is an industry leader in responsibly reducing carbon emissions and producing and delivering clean energy solutions from a variety of renewable sources at competitive prices. For more information, visit xcelenergy.com or follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

Walmart Reaches 5th Anniversary of Veterans Welcome Home Commitment With Announcement of More Than 200,000 Veteran Hires

Tue, 05/22/2018 - 12:20pm

Today, Walmart announced it has hired more than 200,000 veterans and promoted more than 28,000 to roles of greater responsibility since launching its Veterans Welcome Home Commitment five years ago. Recognizing the important skills and leadership abilities veterans possess, the commitment helps veterans find career opportunities at Walmart and aims to ease the sometimes difficult transition from active duty to civilian life. Walmart is now more than 80 percent of the way to reaching its goal of hiring 250,000 veterans by 2020.

In May 2013, Walmart introduced the Veterans Welcome Home Commitment which guaranteed a job offer to any eligible, honorably discharged U.S. veteran who was within 12 months of active duty. Walmart’s initial goal was to hire 100,000 veterans by the end of 2018. In May 2015, Walmart revised its goal to hire 250,000 veterans, including veterans hired within the Welcome Home Commitment as well as other veterans hired by Walmart, by the end of 2020.   Walmart also changed the eligibility under the Welcome Home Commitment from within 12 months of active duty, to any veteran who has been honorably discharged since the announcement of the commitment in May 2013.

“At Walmart, we recognize our veteran associates and leaders as tremendous resources across the company,” said Retired Brigadier General Gary Profit, senior director of military programs for Walmart. “Our veterans bring dedication and value to our workforce, and we feel a great sense of duty to ensuring our men and women in uniform can find not just a job, but a fulfilling career, here at Walmart and beyond.”

In addition to its commitment to hire veterans, Walmart wants military family members to have the opportunity to build long-lasting careers. Walmart’s Military Family Promise guarantees a job at a nearby Walmart or Sam’s Club for all military personnel and military spouses employed by the company who move to a different part of the country because they or their spouse have been transferred by the U.S. military. Walmart also participates in the U.S Chamber of Commerce’s Hiring Our Heroes Program, recruiting veterans and military spouses through career fairs.

Building on an existing $469,000 grant to Boston University’s Women Veterans Network (WoVeN), the Walmart Foundation brings its total commitment to nearly $720,000 with an additional $250,000 grant to the program to continue strengthening the initiative. WoVeN is a nationwide system of peer support groups that connects women veterans from all conflict eras and Service branches and provides them with information, education and resources to improve their quality of life. Over the past 40 years, the number of women serving in active duty military has grown rapidly, with women currently representing about 15 percent of the armed forces. As the number of female service members continues to expand, there is also a growing need to address the unique needs of women veterans.

“Before joining WoVeN, I had no idea how to connect with other women veterans. I had been out of the military for more than 20 years and was trying to cope with major life issues all alone,” said Tina Brice, U.S. Marine Corps Veteran and WoVeN participant. “My journey with WoVeN began just over a year ago, and I had no idea something so simple could be so life changing. Thanks to WoVeN, I have connected with other women veterans nationally and locally, developed new healthy hobbies like mountain biking and completing my first 5K, decreased the stress in my life and reconnected with family and friends. I am so grateful to WoVeN and the Walmart Foundation for empowering me with an opportunity to take my life back.”

“WoVeN is designed to be a community for women veterans regardless of when they return from active military service and to help them form lasting connections with other women veterans both within their individual communities and around the country,” said Tara Galovski, PhD, Director of the Women’s Health Sciences Division of the National Center for PTSD, VA Boston Healthcare System, WoVeN director and Boston University School of Medicine Associate Professor of Psychiatry. “We are incredibly grateful to the Walmart Foundation for the support they’ve given to this project from day one and are proud to continue our partnership to provide ongoing support for the women who have sacrificed so much to serve us.”

Walmart and the Walmart Foundation have a long history of supporting veterans, service members and their families. In 2011, Walmart and the Walmart Foundation committed $20 million by 2015 to support veterans and their families with assistance for programs that provide job training, transition help and education. With the early completion of the commitment in May 2014, Walmart and the Walmart Foundation renewed the commitment, announcing an additional $20 million through 2019 to support job training, education and innovative public/private community-based initiatives that address challenges many veterans face when returning to civilian life. 

For more information about Walmart’s commitment to veterans, service members and military families, please visit: http://www.walmartcareerswithamission.com/ or http://corporate.walmart.com/global-responsibility/veterans-military-families/ and follow Walmart on Twitter @WalmartToday.

*Editor’s Note: These projections and reported hires/promotions include veterans hired under our original and expanded Welcome Home Commitment as well as other veterans hired by Walmart in this time frame. While we think it is particularly important to support soldiers as they make the transition to civilian life, Walmart believes all veterans deserve our respect and support, no matter when they left active duty.

Contact

Blair Cromwell, Walmart

Phone: 1-800-331-0085

Email: news.walmart.com/reporter

About Walmart

Walmart Inc. (NYSE: WMT) helps people around the world save money and live better - anytime and anywhere - in retail stores, online, and through their mobile devices.  Each week, over 260 million customers and members visit our more than 11,600 stores under nearly 60 banners in 28 countries and eCommerce websites. With fiscal year 2017 revenue of $485.9 billion, Walmart employs approximately 2.3 million associates worldwide.  Walmart continues to be a leader in sustainability, corporate philanthropy and employment opportunity.  Additional information about Walmart can be found by visiting http://corporate.walmart.com, on Facebook at http://facebook.com/walmart and on Twitter at http://twitter.com/walmart.

The Pharmaceutical Industry Advocates for Even Greater Collaboration as Critical to Future Global Health Progress

Tue, 05/22/2018 - 3:19am

IFPMA launches today “50 Years of Global Health Progress”. The report traces global health progress over the past 50 years and the pioneering collaborative role the research-based biopharmaceutical industry has played not only to deliver prevention and treatment, but to strengthen health systems around the world. The report reviews some of the research-based biopharmaceutical industry’s major scientific advances, as well as acknowledging challenges the industry faces and areas of unfinished business. The industry’s track record of partnerships over recent decades demonstrates what can be achieved by uniting governments, civil society and business. The report concludes with a commitment to continue to innovate and partner with a shared goal to deliver better health for everyone, everywhere.

Advances in both prevention and treatment of disease have transformed healthcare. Vaccines are widely recognized as the simplest, most cost-effective way to save lives. HIV/AIDS, once fatal, can now be treated as can many cancers. Cardiovascular disease sufferers benefit from simple-one-a-day solutions. We can now cure Hepatitis C. We have an experimental vaccine for Ebola. “Over the past 50 years, we have witnessed a tremendous advancement of healthcare globally. Much of this progress is due to improved access to medical services and to the discovery of life-saving and life-enhancing medicines and vaccines that have extended and improved the quality of life for millions of people,” says Ian Read, Chairman and CEO of Pfizer and IFPMA President.

The industry joined the earliest global health partnerships such as, in the 1970s, the Expanded Program on Immunization and, in the 1980s, the polio eradication and smallpox initiatives. These have been followed by partnerships as diverse as DNDi, MMV, Global Fund for AIDS, TB and Malaria, GAVI, the Vaccine Alliance, MPP, and, more recently, CEPI and Access Accelerated. “While the biopharmaceutical industry has been a key player in this progress, none of it would have been accomplished without partnerships. From patient advocates to our biotech and academic partners to individual governments, innovation is only as impactful as the partnerships that support it,” added Ian Read.

Partnerships are now the norm and the Sustainable Developments Goals serve to galvanize greater collaboration to confront new and remaining challenges as many people still lack access to essential health services, such as family planning, child immunization, antiretroviral therapy to combat HIV and AIDS, tuberculosis treatment, clean water and sanitation. Health systems struggle to respond effectively to burgeoning rates of non-communicable diseases; too many people still die prematurely from preventable diseases.

Despite tremendous progress much more needs to be done to bring the fruits of our innovation to all. The research-based biopharmaceutical industry has learned that global health is about much more than medicines and vaccines – it requires building and supporting strong health systems, delivering education to communities to promote prevention, strengthening standards and regulations and creating innovative finance models. We will continue to evolve, learn and pioneer ways to do more to reach all patients. To do this we’ll need partnerships of all kinds to take on the challenges of Universal Health coverage (UHC). We need to continue to build bridges between key actors across the health system. More dialogue and action are musts” says IFPMA Director General, Thomas Cueni. 

On the occasion of the 71st World Health Assembly and to celebrate its 50-year anniversary, IFPMA is hosting an event on 23rd May in Geneva and will feature a top-level panel to discuss priorities in delivering better health for everyone, everywhere.

About the IFPMA:

IFPMA represents the research-based pharmaceutical companies and associations across the globe. The research-based pharmaceutical industry’s 2 million employees discover, develop, and deliver medicines and vaccines that improve the life of patients worldwide. Based in Geneva, IFPMA has official relations with the United Nations and contributes industry expertise to help the global health community find solutions that improve global health.

Morgan Stanley Foundation Announces Additional $1.5 Million in Grants to Local Food Banks Across the United States

Mon, 05/21/2018 - 3:18pm

Morgan Stanley Foundation today announced over $1,500,000 in grants to local food banks in 29 cities across 20 states to support hunger-relief programs that deliver food assistance and healthy meals to children and families. These grants are part of our most recent commitment, bringing our support total to more than $23 million to 200 Feeding America member food banks to help launch, build upon and sustain critical child nutrition programs through child hunger grants and expand access to fresh produce through produce grants. Morgan Stanley is committed to providing children with a healthy start to life and access to nutritious food is a vital part of that pledge.

“We are proud to continue our longstanding partnership with Feeding America and its network of local food banks to ensure every child has access to healthy food and raise awareness about the issue,” said Joan Steinberg, Global Head of Philanthropy at Morgan Stanley. “Through our support, particularly through the hands-on volunteering of thousands of our employees, we hope to see Feeding America’s mission to end hunger become a reality.”

Food insecurity continues to be a major issue facing millions of Americans today. 41 million people face hunger in the United States, including 13 million children. With one out of every seven people turning to the Feeding America network each year for extra support, grants like these help fight hunger across the nation. Feeding America’s Hunger in America 2014 study found that 39 percent of households served by Feeding America had at least one child under the age of 18.

“Grants like this from Morgan Stanley make a vital difference in our efforts to provide children with the nutritious meals they need every day,” said Matt Knott, President of Feeding America. “Nearly 13 million children in the United States live at risk of hunger. Together, we can fight hunger and help children get the fuel they need to grow healthy and strong.”

The following food banks are recipients of the Morgan Stanley Foundation:

Recipient of Child Hunger Grants

Recipient of Produce Grants

  • Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona (Tuscon, AZ)
  • Community Food Bank (Fresno, CA)
  • San Francisco and Marin Food Banks (San Francisco, CA)
  • Care and Share Food Bank (Colorado Springs, CO)
  • Food Bank of Delaware (Newark, DE)
  • Feeding Tampa Bay (Tampa, FL)
  • Gleaners Food Bank of Indiana, Inc. (Indianapolis, IN)
  • Second Harvest Heartland (St. Paul, MN)
  • Harvesters - The Community Food Network (Kansas City, MO)
  • Food Bank of Western New York (Buffalo, NY)
  • Freestore Foodbank (Cincinnati, OH)
  • Greater Cleveland Food Bank, Inc. (Cleveland, OH)
  • Mid-Ohio FoodBank (Grove City, OH)
  • The Foodbank, Inc. (Dayton, OH)
  • Toledo Northwestern Ohio Food Bank (Toledo, OH)
  • Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma (Oklahoma City, OK)
  • Central Pennsylvania Food Bank (Harrisburg, PA)
  • Second Harvest Food Bank of East Tennessee (Maryville, TN)
  • Central Texas Food Bank (Austin, TX)
  • Second Harvest Foodbank of Southern Wisconsin (Madison, WI)
  • Community Food Bank of Central Alabama (Birmingham, AL)
  • Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona (Tucson, AZ)
  • Feeding Northeast Florida (Jacksonville, FL)
  • Central Illinois Foodbank (Springfield, IL)
  • Gleaners Community Food Bank of Southeastern Michigan (Detroit, MI)
  • Food Bank of Central & Eastern North Carolina (Raleigh, NC)
  • Roadrunner Food Bank (Albuquerque, NM)
  • Second Harvest Food Bank of the Mahoning Valley (Youngstown, OH)
  • H & J Weinberg NE PA Regional Food Bank (Pittston, PA)
  • Second Harvest Food Bank of Northeast Tennessee (Kingsport, TN)
  • Second Harvest Foodbank of Southern Wisconsin (Madison, WI)

 

Morgan Stanley (NYSE: MS) is a leading global financial services firm providing investment banking, securities, wealth management and investment management services. With offices in more than 41 countries, the Firm's employees serve clients worldwide including corporations, governments, institutions and individuals. For more information about Morgan Stanley, please visit www.morganstanley.com

CITGO Honored With Special Olympics Louisiana Outstanding Corporate Benefactor Award

Mon, 05/21/2018 - 3:18pm

This past April, CITGO was honored to receive the Special Olympics Louisiana 2017 Outstanding State Corporate Benefactor Award, noting the company's historic and dependable support of Southwest Louisiana (SWLA) Special Olympics. As a proud partner of SWLA Special Olympics for more than 30 years, CITGO was also presented with a SWLA Special Olympics Sponsor Recognition plaque.

"Special Olympics is a great organization that offers opportunities for individuals with intellectual disabilities that allow them to participate and compete in athletic activities throughout the year," said Jerry Dunn, Vice President and General Manager of the CITGO Lake Charles Manufacturing Complex. "Our local Special Olympic athletes make the community proud. Not only by representing our region and competing at the SWLA Special Olympics Spring Games, but also by being ambassadors for the organization and positively impacting our communities on a daily basis."

Celebrating 50 years of service, Special Olympics Louisiana is dedicated to providing year-round sports opportunities for children and adults with intellectual disabilities. The organization positively impacts the lives of more than 15,000 children and adults with intellectual disabilities in the state who participate in more than 100 competitions.

CITGO is proud to support Special Olympics programs through monetary and time donations throughout the company's operating regions. At the corporate level, CITGO is a global bronze sponsor of Special Olympics, supporting the annual Special Olympics Law Enforcement Torch Run's Truck Convoy and the Unified Schools national program. This year, CITGO is proud to serve as a Bronze Sponsor for the Special Olympics 50th Anniversary Unified Cup, taking place in Chicago during the month of July, to celebrate five decades of transforming lives through the joy of sport.

About CITGO Lake Charles 
CITGO has been part of the Louisiana community for more than 70 years. The company's operations in the state include a refinery, products terminal and several miles of pipeline. The CITGO Lake Charles Manufacturing Complex was strategically built in 1944 to supply fuel for U.S. military forces that protected the Gulf Coast from German U-Boats during World War II. Today, the CITGO Lake Charles Manufacturing Complex is the sixth-largest refining facility in the United States. As the largest of the three CITGO refineries, the Lake Charles Manufacturing Complex consists of a modern, deep-conversion facility with a crude oil refining capacity of 425,000 barrels per day (bpd). The facility employs approximately 1,100 regular full-time employees and approximately 800 contractors in Southwest Louisiana. The state of Louisiana has approximately 100 independently owned CITGO retail stations.

About CITGO 
CITGO, based in Houston, is a refiner, transporter and marketer of transportation fuels, lubricants, petrochemicals and other industrial products. The company is owned by CITGO Holding, Inc., an indirect wholly owned subsidiary of Petróleos de Venezuela, S.A., the national oil company of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela. For more information, visit www.citgo.com.

DTE Energy and Consumers Energy Accelerate Plans for Cleaner Energy in Michigan

Fri, 05/18/2018 - 3:08pm

Consumers Energy and DTE Energy today said they are accelerating plans to produce cleaner energy in Michigan, targeting at least a 50 percent Clean Energy Goal by 2030– achieved through a combination of investments in at least 25 percent renewable energy, and the remaining through energy efficiency.

In the past year, both DTE Energy and Consumers have announced plans to reduce carbon emissions by more than 80 percent in the coming decades. Leveraging the already aggressive framework established in Michigan’s 2016 bipartisan energy law, the state’s two largest energy companies are advancing their plans to invest in Michigan. This is in conjunction with an agreement by Clean Energy, Healthy Michigan (CEHM) to place aside a ballot proposal to increase the state’s renewable portfolio standard.

Michigan’s two energy companies have been cited as industry leaders in their commitment to transform the way they produce energy: retiring coal plants and increasing wind and solar generation.  Both DTE and Consumers will demonstrate how they will achieve the 50 percent Clean Energy Goal by 2030 in their respective Integrated Resource Plans.

DTE Energy Chairman and CEO Gerry Anderson and Consumers Energy CEO Patti Poppe released the following statement:

“We appreciate that Tom Steyer and the sponsors of Clean Energy, Healthy Michigan have taken the time to understand our commitment to carbon reduction and how Michigan’s energy plan puts the tools in place to achieve this goal in a thoughtful and affordable manner. Our two companies are overwhelmingly in favor of renewable energy and are focused on bringing additional energy efficiency opportunities to our customers. We will continue to work within the framework put forward by our legislature and regulators to build on our environmental initiatives to benefit all residents of the state.”

About DTE Energy

DTE Energy (NYSE:DTE) is a Detroit-based diversified energy company involved in the development and management of energy-related businesses and services nationwide. Its operating units include an electric utility serving 2.2 million customers in Southeastern Michigan and a natural gas utility serving 1.3 million customers in Michigan. The DTE Energy portfolio includes non-utility energy businesses focused on power and industrial projects, natural gas pipelines, gathering and storage, and energy marketing and trading.  As one of Michigan's leading corporate citizens, DTE Energy is a force for growth and prosperity in the 450 Michigan communities it serves in a variety of ways, including philanthropy, volunteerism and economic progress. Information about DTE Energy is available at dteenergy.comtwitter.com/dte_energy and facebook.com/dteenergy.

About Consumers Energy

Consumers Energy, Michigan’s largest energy provider, is the principal subsidiary of CMS Energy (NYSE: CMS), providing natural gas and/or electricity to 6.7 million of the state’s 10 million residents in all 68 Lower Peninsula counties.

For further information, members of the media may contact:

Stephanie Beres, DTE Energy, 313.235.5555

Megan M. Brown, Consumers Energy, 517.788.6538

Sappi North America Opens 2018 ‘Ideas that Matter' Call for Entries

Fri, 05/18/2018 - 3:08pm

 Sappi North America, a leading producer and supplier of diversified paper and packaging products, today announced the call for entries for its 2018 Ideas that Matter grant program, inviting designers to show the world how design – specifically print – can play an important role in changing lives for the better. Sappi established the Ideas that Matter grant program 19 years ago to fund designers who apply their creative talents to causes that address significant issues facing our society.

For nearly two decades, Sappi has witnessed firsthand how the creative and integrated work of designers can change society. Sappi remains committed to the belief that good ideas inspire people to take action, and great ideas change the world. Though many media choices are available, print is at the heart of influential and effective messaging and a perfect complement to promote positive social causes.

“I am continually impressed by the amazing projects that are submitted each year. Over the course of the Ideas that Matter program, Sappi has financed more than 500 charitable programs designed to better our lives, our communities and our planet,” said Patti Groh, Director of Marketing Communications, Sappi North America. “From national nonprofits to local community initiatives, the breadth, quality and impact of projects we’ve supported have made a meaningful difference in people’s lives across the globe. We’re honored to annually provide support for the work of designers and nonprofits who aim to drive social change through design.”

This year’s panel of judges include:

  • Maurice Woods, Senior Experience Designer, Microsoft and Founder/Executive Director, Inneract Project
  • Justin Ahrens, Principal and Creative Director, Rule29
  • Jacinda Walker, Founder and Creative Director, designExplorr
  • Terry Marks, Principal, tmarks
  • Julia Zeltser, Creative Director and Principal, Hyperakt

Ideas that Matter Come to Life

Ideas that Matter is the only grant program of its kind in the paper industry and is a key part of Sappi’s corporate social responsibility efforts. Since 1999, the program has provided $13 million to support causes that change lives, communities, and ultimately, the planet.

The 2017 winners included Studio Usher for ProPublica; Smokefire Media for Center for Neighborhood Leadership; Jewel Clark for Creative Reaction Lab; The Vignelli Center for Design Studies at Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT); Urban Minds for 8 80 Cities; IDEO.org; Eastern Michigan University School of Art & Design for Riverside Art Center/Fly; Re-nourish for Prosperity Gardens, Inc.; Gala Narezo and Chantal Fischzang for Mawuni; and Dress Code for Vera Institute of Justice (VERA).

Information on previous winners can be viewed on Sappi's Ideas that Matter website.

Selection Criteria and How to Enter

Ideas that Matter proposals are evaluated on creativity, potential effectiveness and practicality by an annually selected, independent panel of judges who are influential in the design industry.

The call for Ideas that Matter submissions is open to individual designers, design firms, agencies, in-house corporate design departments, design instructors, individual design students and design student groups. Only applicants in North America may apply. Grant awards range from $5,000 to $50,000 USD per project. Each application must include an IRS 501 (c) 3 letter or Canadian equivalent of the applicant's nonprofit organization.

Applications for the 2018 program must be submitted and postmarked no later than July 6, 2018.Judging takes place in August, grants are announced in September and awards are distributed in October.

To obtain an entry form or for more information on the Ideas that Matter grant, please click here or call 800-882-4332.

About Sappi North America
Sappi North America, headquartered in Boston, is a market leader in converting wood fiber into superior products that customers demand worldwide. The success of our four diversified businesses – high quality Coated Printing Papers, Specialised Cellulose, Release Papers and Specialty Packaging – is driven by strong customer relationships, best-in-class people and advantaged assets, products and services. Our high quality Coated Printing Papers, including McCoy, Opus, Somerset and Flo, are the key platform for premium magazines, catalogs, books and high-end print advertising. We are a leading manufacturer of Specialised Cellulose used in a wide range of products, including textile fibers and household goods, and one of the world's leading suppliers of Release Papers with our Ultracast, PolyEX, Classics and Neoterix lines for the automotive, fashion and engineered films industries. Our Specialty Packaging products, such as LusterPrint and LusterCote, represent an important asset in the food packaging and labeling industries. Customers rely on Sappi for high technical, operational and market expertise; products and services delivered with consistently high quality and reliability; and, state-of-the-art and cost-competitive assets and innovative spirit.

Sappi North America is a subsidiary of Sappi Limited (JSE), a global company headquartered in Johannesburg, South Africa, with more than 12,000 employees and manufacturing operations on three continents in seven countries and customers in over 150 countries around the world. Learn more about Sappi at: www.sappi.com.

Mohawk Group’s New Flagship Showroom in New York Showcases Sustainable and Wellness Design

Fri, 05/18/2018 - 3:08pm

Mohawk Group’s new flagship location in the Fashion District of New York City expresses the company’s commitment not only to stylish and innovative floor coverings but also to sustainable and wellness design. Designed by Gensler, the 13,000-square-foot showroom in Manhattan features an open layout that integrates distinctive company branding, inviting workspaces and meeting spaces, and new display techniques to uniquely and effectively showcase a revolving lineup of featured commercial flooring products based on Mohawk Group’s latest collections.

Clean lines, biophilic design, ample natural lighting and a modern, yet comfortable aesthetic pay tribute to the showroom’s setting in the heart of the city. Within the core of the installation, vignettes framed by black steel cubes invite customers to learn more about the inspiration behind Mohawk Group’s highlighted collections. The cube concept manifests itself throughout the space, including the meeting rooms.

“This beautiful space showcases our commitment not only to a better customer experience, but also to the importance Mohawk places on corporate social responsibility and employee health and wellness,” said George Bandy Jr., vice president of sustainability and commercial marketing. “Visitors and colleagues alike get to experience the aesthetic and biophilic merits of this breathtaking environment and leave feeling refreshed and inspired. Our desire to achieve multi-faceted certifications like WELL and LEED challenge us to do better every day, not just in product manufacturing, but in the way that we support our associates and customers as well.”

Mohawk Group is currently seeking WELL and LEED certifications for the new showroom. The WELL Building Standard, created by the International WELL Building Institute (IWBI), focuses exclusively on the ways that buildings, and everything in them, can improve comfort, drive better choices and generally enhance, not compromise, the health and wellness of their users. To help achieve this certification, Mohawk Group is implementing specific employee-focused initiatives, including establishing indoor herb and plant gardens, and serving organic fruits, vegetables and healthy snacks, while also offering complimentary gym memberships to employees.

Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) is a rating system devised by the United States Green Building Council (USGBC) to evaluate the environmental performance and sustainable design of a building. LEED buildings save energy, water and resources; generate less waste; and support human health. As part of this certification process, Mohawk Group specified daylight harvesting light sensors with energy efficient LED lighting, low-flow faucets, and products that were either Red List-free with a Declare Label or had an Environmental Product Declaration and/or Health Product Declaration.

“Mohawk Group partnered with our team to create an elevated and multi-functional space that focuses on product education, accessibility and interactive touch points for its clients and sales team,” said Jean Anderson, NCIDQ, IIDA, principal and design director at Gensler. “The immersive and compelling new showroom ingeniously connects clients and designers to intuitively experience the Mohawk Group brand.”

As a leading global architecture, design and planning firm, Gensler has designed over 110 million square feet of LEED certified space to date. A recipient of USGBC’s Leadership Award for Organizational Excellence, Gensler has designed more than 700 LEED certified projects. It has made Interior Design magazine’s “Top 100 Giants” list for 35 consecutive years.

The showroom includes easily accessible storage areas for architect folders and flooring samples for both commercial hard and soft surface. Offerings from the company’s hospitality brand, Durkan, are also highlighted in and around the showroom. Mohawk Group’s innovative Visual Interactive Studio (VIS) is located on-site, providing 2-D floor perspectives, 3-D room scenes and high resolution renderings of designer’s unique flooring creations, culminating in a fully immersive virtual experience. The flagship space’s color palette and overall design concept will inspire and influence the company’s other showroom spaces as well.

The new showroom reinforces Mohawk Group’s position as a leader in the commercial flooring industry, reflecting the company’s commitment to believe in better design, innovation, sustainability, project solutions and operational excellence. Mohawk Group’s New York sales team will be based out of the space year-round.

The Mohawk Group showroom is located on the sixth floor of 125 W. 25th St., New York, NY 10001.

About Mohawk Group

Mohawk Group, the world’s leading producer and distributor of quality commercial flooring, delivers industry-leading style, cutting-edge innovation, unmatched service and superior sustainability. As the commercial division of Mohawk Industries, Mohawk Group has a heritage of craftsmanship that spans more than 130 years. The company’s enduring family of brands—Mohawk, Karastan and Durkan—are widely regarded as the most trusted names in the commercial flooring business. Together, these brands function beautifully, delivering the perfect flooring solution for all markets and price points. Rounding out its esteemed product offering, Mohawk Group also offers a full spectrum of hard surface flooring products and installation accessories that exceed the most rigorous performance standards. For more information, visit MohawkGroup.com.

Greenpeace Founder Blasts Chevron and U.S. Judge Kaplan for “Intimidation” Campaign Against Ecuadorian Villagers

Thu, 05/17/2018 - 3:06pm

Greenpeace co-founder and writer Rex Weyler has published an expose of a SLAPP-style intimidation campaign orchestrated by Chevron and U.S. trial judge Lewis A. Kaplan against Indigenous peoples of Ecuador and an American lawyer, who helped win a $12 billion judgment against the company for oil pollution in the Amazon rainforest.

Published on the Greenpeace International website, the article criticizes Chevron and its corporate law firm, Gibson Dunn, for “fabricating evidence, lying and other criminal misconduct” to evade paying the Ecuador judgment.  Chevron operated in Ecuador from 1964 to 1992. In 2011, after an eight-year trial in Ecuador –where Chevron insisted the trial take place– the company was convicted of dumping billions of gallons of toxic waste into waterways and abandoning 900 unlined toxic waste pits.  (See the summary of evidence against Chevron.)

In the region known locally as the “Amazon Chernobyl,” cancer rates have skyrocketed. Legendary nurse Rosa Moreno, who operated the lone clinic in the region, recently died of cancer. Since Chevron fled Ecuador and has refused to pay the judgment, the affected Indigenous peoples are moving to seize company assets in Canada, where they have achieved three consecutive and unanimous appellate court victories.

After visiting the impacted area in Ecuador, Weyler earlier reported on Chevron's “ecological crimes”.  Regarding the lawsuit heard in Kaplan’s New York courtroom, Weyler writes: “These days, when powerful corporations get caught breaking the law, polluting the Earth, violating human rights, or all of these crimes simultaneously, they don’t pay the fine and make amends like normal citizens. They attack.

“Corporate lawyers spend millions to assault victims with SLAPPs (Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation)... The purpose of a SLAPP is not necessarily to win in court, but rather to intimidate, harass, demonize and bankrupt the weaker opponent.” 

Weyler called the Chevron “racketeering suit” against the Ecuadorians and Donziger possibly “the most vindictive SLAPP in history” given that the company has spent an estimated $2 billion on at least 60 law firms and hundreds of lawyers. Weyler also pointed out that Greenpeace itself has been the victim of two new SLAPP-style suits designed to chill the group’s advocacy.

Weyler also used the platform to criticize U.S. trial Judge Lewis A. Kaplan, who ruled in favor of Chevron in the company’s SLAPP suit based largely on false testimony from an admittedly corrupt witness paid $2 million by the company. (See here for background on Chevron’s fraud during the civil "racketeering" proceeding or RICO trial.)

Weyler describes Kaplan as a “judge acting as a prosecutor” on behalf of Chevron; Kaplan held undisclosed investments in Chevron during the trial.  Weyler quotes noted lawyer John Keker calling Kaplan’s “racketeering” trial against Donziger a “Dickensian farce” that violated basic standards of due process. 

Other highlights of Weyler ‘s article include: 

**Kaplan allowed Chevron to pay $2 million to an admittedly corrupt Ecuadorian witness, Alberto Guerra, who claimed under oath he attended a meeting in Ecuador where Donziger offered a bribe to ghostwrite the judgment.  The witness later recanted much of his testimony, and a computer forensic analysis proved he was lying; Kaplan never corrected his decision.

**Through much of the RICO proceeding, Kaplan mocked the Ecuadorians by calling them the “so-called” plaintiffs.  He referred to their case as a “game” and “not bona fide litigation” despite the fact the Ecuador court proceeding lasted eight years, generated 220,000 pages of evidence, and relied on 105 technical evidentiary reports.

**Federal rules typically limit a deposition to one day or possibly two in extraordinary cases.  Kaplan forced Donziger to sit for 19 days of depositions at the hands of Chevron’s large legal team, which engaged in tag team questioning while dozens of lawyers watched in person and dozens more over an Internet feed.

**Kaplan appointed his close friend and former law partner, Max Gitter, to rule over depositions in the case as an officer of the court.  Gitter – notoriously biased in favor of Chevron -- was paid entirely by the oil company into a private account and the bill likely ran well into the millions of dollars. Kaplan has refused Donziger’s repeated requests for disclosure of the amount and to take discovery of Gitter to determine the full contours of his relationship with Chevron. (Here is background on the secret Chevron payments to Gitter.)

**Kaplan tried to issue an unprecedented worldwide injunction purporting to block enforcement of the Ecuador judgment and he did so prior to even holding an evidentiary hearing. The injunction, which clearly violates international law, was overturned unanimously on appeal one day after oral argument.

**Kaplan allowed Chevron to serve subpoenas on Amazon Watch, Google, Microsoft and others, seeking email accounts to track the activities of some 100 lawyers, students, journalists, and academics who supported the case -- all part of the company's intimidation campaign, said Weyler.

**During the RICO trial, Kaplan prohibited Donziger and other defendants from even mentioning any evidence “related to the existence of pollution in Ecuador,” although pollution comprised the entire point of the underlying lawsuit that Kaplan was purporting to rule on. 

** Kaplan accepted testimony from anonymous witnesses, whose identities were never disclosed to the defendants, Donziger and two Ecuadorian citizens.

Although Chevron had sued Donziger for a record $60 billion in damages, the company dropped this claim on the eve of trial to avoid a jury. Now, Chevron is attempting to force the lawyer to reimburse Chevron $32 million in legal fees for its expenses during the non-jury trial – an amount Donziger says would bankrupt him. “Chevron is extremely angry at the success of the lawsuit in Ecuador and Canada,” said Donziger, "and is now doing anything it can in the U.S. to intimidate counsel into silence, including threatening to impose punitive financial penalties.”

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