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Coal Ash, Environmental Risks to Dominate Southern Company Annual Meeting

Attention Focused on Southern Co. as One of the Nation's Largest Polluters

Submitted by: Green America

Categories: Environment, Corporate Social Responsibility

Posted: May 25, 2010 – 11:00 AM EST


WASHINGTON, D.C., May 25 /CSRwire/ - With Southern Company's annual shareholder meeting tomorrow, and with two resolutions on the ballot focusing on risks from the company's environmental practices, there is rising pressure on Southern Company to take action to improve its environmental record in relation to coal ash and other matters.

Shareholder proposals on climate change and coal ash have been earning record votes at companies across the U.S. A recent resolution on coal ash at MDU Resources earned a high vote of 25.6%. Resolutions often only receive votes of 5-7% in support. Attention is now focused on Southern Company, which has a poor environmental record amongst utilities and substantial exposure to environmental costs from its massive greenhouse gas emissions and coal ash impoundments. The coal ash resolution at Southern Company, filed by Green Century Capital Management (www.greencentury.com), has earned the support of both RiskMetrics and Proxy Governance, two major proxy advisory services, which is often a sign of a strong vote for the resolution.

Businesses in the Southeast are also encouraging Southern Company to improve its environmental record. In a letter sent to Southern Company last week (http://www.greenamericatoday.org/pdf/southerncompanyletter.pdf), 25 business leaders in the Southeast, who are part of the Green America Business Network, wrote that: "A strong economy in the Southeast depends on a sound energy plan that will serve Southern Company's customers and the region well in the long term. We need to decrease our reliance on coal, use energy more efficiently, and increase our use of renewables."

"As a long-time investor in Southern Company, I'm concerned about their profitability in the long run," says investor Colleen Kiernan, "I want to see Southern Company address issues like climate change and global warming now to protect my investments in the future."

"As a business owner, I care deeply about the future of the Southeast, which is dependent on a healthy environment," says Grace Dantas, owner of Creollus in Atlanta, Georgia, and customer of Georgia Power (A Southern Company subsidiary). "That's why it is important to me that Georgia Power increase energy efficiency and renewables, and address environmental hazards such as coal ash ponds. If Georgia Power becomes a cleaner, greener utility today, it will benefit all businesses in the Southeast."

"To understand the economic and environmental dangers of coal ash we need look no further than Kingston, TN where 1.1 billion gallons of coal ash sludge burst from a storage pond and saturated 300 acres and tributaries of the Tennessee River with dangerous toxins," said Jennette Gayer, State Advocate with Environment Georgia. "Imagine that kind of disaster on the Chattahoochee or the Savannah River…this is a threat that we should not have to face."

"Southern Company has the biggest, dirtiest coal plant in the country, located near Macon, Georgia. Between the polluting dirty coal plants and the toxic ash ponds owned by Southern, the financial, environmental, and health risks to investors and citizens are real. We need to be cleaning up and retiring old coal, not building more," said Erin Glynn, organizer, with the Sierra Club in GA.

Southern Company's annual meeting is Wednesday, May 26, in Callaway Gardens, Georgia.

Environment Georgia (www.environmentgeorgia.org) is a statewide, citizen-based environmental advocacy organization.

Sierra Club (www.sierraclub.org) works to protect communities, wild places, and the planet itself. It is the oldest, largest, and most influential grassroots environmental organization in the United States.

Green America (formerly Co-op America) is the nation's leading green economy organization. Its Green Business Network is a vibrant community of over 4,000 businesses committed to creating a better world (www.greenamericatoday.org).

For more information, please contact:

Todd Larsen Corporate Responsibility Director
Phone: 202-872-5310


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