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Ford's Shareholder Meeting Targeted By Environmentalists

Activists plan to use the Ford Motor Company's annual shareholder meeting this week to press the company for changes in its environmental policies and practices. In one move, Green Century Capital Management of Boston will present at the meeting May 11 a proposal that would require Ford to disclose how much it has spent on lobbying federal officials in support of fuel-economy standards that critics say are weak.

"The report should present the business case for these activities in light of long-term economic trends and the company's widely publicized plans to increase the fuel economy and reduce the environmental impact of its vehicles," the resolution submitted by Green Capital states. In 2004 alone, Ford spent more than seven million dollars million lobbying Congress and the Bush administration to support a proposal that allows Ford to increase the size of its vehicles to avoid meeting higher fuel economy standards, Green Capital said in support of the proposal.

Another resolution submitted by a shareholder from San Francisco, Russell Long, would link executive compensation to progress in reducing the amount of greenhouse gas emissions from Ford's newest vehicles. As emissions drop, executives would be eligible to collect larger bonuses.

A separate proposal asked Ford to publish a comprehensive report each year on global warming that would help keep shareholders informed about the company's various policy actions.

Ford's board of directors have issued statements recommending that shareholders vote against all three proposals. "Ford takes the issue of global warming very seriously and our actions show were are investing heavily in innovative technologies and in improving existing technologies in order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions," Ford's directors noted in a statement.

"Ford compensates its executives based on a number of factors designed to motivate management to plan for Ford's long term success," the directors said.

The board also said the proposal calling for disclosure of all lobby fees related to fuel economy standards was too narrowly focused.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2006

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