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Flaring, burning excess natural gas, is happening all over Texas. (Photo: Robert Daemmrich Photography Inc/Corbis via Getty Images)

HOUSTON — Facing investor pressure, one of America’s biggest oil producers has committed to setting targets to reduce emissions of methane, a potent greenhouse gas, from its oil and gas wells.

Why it matters: The move by Houston-based EOG Resources represents the latest in a growing trend of oil companies working with investors on increasing transparency and commitment to addressing climate change.

The big picture: Annual shareholder meetings are becoming an alternative battleground between big companies and climate change as government policy on the matter retreats under President Trump. It's a hot topic here at the annual CERAWeek conference by IHS Markit, where executives of the world's oil and other energy companies have gathered.

The intrigue: Shareholders present resolutions to company executives that either are agreed upon before a vote or come to a vote by shareholders at annual meetings, most of which take place in the spring.

  • Sometimes, companies seek approval from the federal Securities and Exchange Commission, which governs the process, to omit resolutions.
  • Last year, EOG Resources successfully got the SEC to exempt a resolution put forth by its shareholders to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions, a similar proposal as the one EOG has agreed to this year. The move was considered unprecedented.

Details: The players are EOG Resources and Trillium Asset Management, which filed last year’s rejected resolution and this year’s accepted one. Trillium manages more than $2 billion in investments with a focus on sustainability. EOG is the biggest oil producer in Texas.

  • Trillium said in a notice posted on its website in January that EOG had committed to setting methane targets, so it was withdrawing its resolution. This development was previously unreported.
  • “Engaging EOG is a slow and incremental process. Year after year we are able to get them to take additional steps. So over the course of 2019 and 2020, we will be continuing to engage and getting that specificity into the targets,” said Jonas Kron, director of shareholder advocacy at Trillium.
  • Kron said EOG has committed to setting qualitative targets this year and quantitative — or more concrete — targets next year.
  • A spokesman for EOG confirmed the announcement but didn’t say when the targets would be issued or what they would be.

One level deeper: I first found this nugget tucked away in a new report out today by a few nonprofit groups working on greater transparency and more action on climate change and other issues via the shareholder process.

Go deeper:

Go deeper

11 hours ago - Health

FDA advisory panel recommends Pfizer boosters for those 65 and older

A healthcare worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine at the Key Biscayne Community Center on Aug. 24, 2021. Photo: Eva Marie Uzcategui/Bloomberg via Getty Images

A key Food and Drug Administration advisory panel on Friday overwhelmingly voted against recommending Pfizer vaccine booster shots for younger Americans, but unanimously recommended approving the third shots for individuals 65 and older, as well as those at high-risk of severe COVID-19.

Why it matters: While the votes are non-binding, and the FDA must still make a final decision, Friday's move pours cold water on the Biden administration's plan to begin administering boosters to most individuals who received the Pfizer vaccine later this month.

11 hours ago - World

France recalls ambassadors from U.S. and Australia over submarine deal

Secretary of State Antony Blinken (L), French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian (C), and French ambassador to the U.S. Philippe Etienne. Photo: Nicholas Kamm/AFP via Getty Images

France has taken the extraordinary step of recalling its ambassadors to the U.S. and Australia after both countries blindsided their French allies with a new military pact and submarine contract, the French Foreign Ministry announced on Friday.

The backstory: While sealing an agreement with the U.S. and U.K. to acquire nuclear submarines, Australia ripped up an existing $90 billion submarine deal with France. That led senior French officials to accuse the U.S. of a "stab in the back."

Updated 11 hours ago - World

In reversal, Pentagon now says drone strike killed 10 Afghan civilians

Caskets for the dead are carried towards the gravesite as relatives and friends attend a mass funeral for members of a family that is said to have been killed in a U.S. drone airstrike, in Kabul on Aug. 30. Photo: Marcus Yam/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

A U.S. drone strike launched on Aug. 29 killed 10 civilians in Afghanistan, including seven children, rather than the Islamic State extremists the Biden administration claimed it targeted, the Pentagon said Friday.

Why it matters: U.S. Central Command said at the time that officials "know" the drone strike "disrupted an imminent ISIS-K threat" to Kabul's airport, and that they were "confident we successfully hit the target."