Partnering for good works.
Of course, the proof of environmental excellence is in performance. Policy statements and well-intentioned people count for little if there is no demonstrable proof that the environment is a company's top priority.
How do you prove environmental commitment to a public somewhat jaded by "green" claims? The most important way is by operating safely and in an environmentally responsible manner. Coming in a close second is by directing philanthropic dollars and working with others on projects that encourage environmental stewardship.
There was a time when Phillips was content to write a check to worthy organizations and then fade into the background. Supporting the good work of others is still an important part of Phillips's environmental contribution program. However, more and more the company is establishing its own environmental programs, involving its employees and bringing other organizations in as partner. Here are three examples of Phillips-developed initiatives.
Playa Lakes Joint Venture: Phillips cut its teeth on environmental partnerships when it helped create the Playa Lakes Joint Venture in 1990. Playas are small, shallow basins that dot the landscape of oil country -- the panhandle region of Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Colorado, and New Mexico. Playas provide critical habitat for waterfowl migrating across the central flyway. However, over the years, many have been severely degraded -- primarily by agricultural practices and municipal waste handling.
The Playa Lakes Joint Venture is a five-state effort to restore a network of playas so that migrating waterfowl have adequate resting and feeding grounds. Our partners in the venture are many and varied. They include the five state wildlife agencies: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Agency, Ducks Unlimited, Texas Tech University, Texas Waterfowlers Association, and the National Wildlife Federation. Each brings to the joint venture a shared commitment and a particular expertise.
Phillips will fund half the $1.3 million that the joint venture plans to spend on playa restoration. But our contribution is more than money. Phillips people work side by side with the partners. They share the work, and they share the accolades. The joint venture received a Presidential Citation from George Bush in 1991, was honored by Renew America in 1992, and was recognized by the National Environmental Development Association in 1993.
Putting PEP in the Environment: Sometimes all it takes is a little seed money to see a good idea go from the drawing board to the great outdoors. A Phillips Environmental Partnership Award can provide that financial boost. In 1993, Phillips gave its first PEP Awards -- 73 awards, totaling $250,000, to schools and community organizations for local environmental programs. Some of the winning entries:
* A "Five Senses Garden" at a Louisiana elementary school so that the visually impaired can study plant life indigenous to that state;
* An effort by an Idaho elementary school to return a local stream to its former glory as the premier trout stream on the Kootenai River;
* An ambitious program by a Connecticut Audubon group to preserve the diamondback turtle; and
* A cooperative venture by a children's home and neighboring high school near El Paso, Texas, to germinate a variety of plants and then beautify the community with their handiwork.
Sweet Music: The thousands of songbirds that arrive each spring along the Gulf Coast will soon have more room to rest, recuperate, and spread their wings before continuing their migration north, thanks to a historical alliance put together by Phillips and the Houston Audubon Society.
The High Island and Gulf Coast Conservation Initiatives will improve and protect habitat along the Texas and Louisiana coasts for neotropical migratory birds, better known as songbirds. Over the past 10 years, there has been a significant decline in the population of these birds, primarily because of loss of habitat. The Texas and Louisiana coasts offer wooded patches of land on which neotropical migrants can rest and feed after making their arduous journey from wintering grounds in Mexico, the Caribbean, and Central and South America.
Working together, Phillips and Houston Audubon have expanded their partnership to include The Nature Conservancy, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, and Amoco Production Co.
Many times it's neither practical nor feasible to tailor-make an environmental program, especially if there are established organizations with the people and expertise to do it better. Phillips is proud to support these organizations:
* Project WILD. Phillips is corporate sponsor of Project WILD, one of the country's largest and most respected environmental education programs.
* GreenWorks. With help from Phillips, the U.S. Junior Chamber of Commerce and Project Learning Tree, a national environmental education organization, are forging a new partnership to address community environmental needs.
* A Home for Pearl. The importance of habitat, especially in urban settings, is stressed in this educational film series developed for elementary students. Because of Phillips's support, the film and related teaching materials are distributed to educators free of charge.
* Tallgrass Prairie. Phillips is helping support The Nature Conservancy's efforts to restore the 30,000-acre Tallgrass Prairie Preserve in northeast Oklahoma.
* Bald Eagle. Thanks to the work of the George Miksch Sutton Avian Research Center, located in northeast Oklahoma, the bald eagle -- once faced with extinction -- is increasing in number. Phillips has supported the work of the Sutton Center since its inception a decade ago.
* Rigs to Reefs. Phillips was the first oil company to provide an offshore petroleum platform to the State of Texas to be used as an artificial reel Offshore platforms have long attracted marine life because of the size, shape, and openness of the structures.
* International Science and Engineering Fair. Phillips was the first corporation to solely sponsor one entire category of awards -- the environmental science category -- in what is considered to be the most prestigious student science event in the world.
* Lignite. Phillips worked with educators at Texas A&M University to develop eighth-grade curriculum on lignite -- how it's mined, how the environment is protected, and how the land is made ready for reclamation.
* Wolfweed. Named after a low-value plant that covers much of the area, the Wolfweed Reservoir Project, funded in part by Phillips, will ensure fresh water and food for the 400 species of wildlife and 250 species of birds found on the San Bernard Wildlife Refuge in south Texas.
Patricia A. Marshall is Coordinator, Educational and Environmental Programs, for Phillips Petroleum Co. She is responsible for developing and funding Phillips's environmental and educational philanthropic programs. She joined the Bartlesville, Okla, company in 1974. In the following article she shows the range of diverse initiatives Phillips is taking in its environmental stewardship.