Wells Fargo: Saving the planet or killing jobs?

March 18, 2009

Taking advantage of federal securities regulations that permit publicly-owned companies to transmit annual proxy statements to shareholders by e-mail rather than by mail, banking giant Wells Fargo stated in its preliminary 2008 proxy statement that,

Wells Fargo is also committed to promoting a clean environment and working towards a greener future. The SEC rule also allows us to reduce the environmental impact of printing and mailing hard copies of proxy materials to each stockholder. We printed 100,546,728 fewer pages of proxy materials for our 2008 annual meeting than we did for our 2007 annual meeting because we used the SEC’s notice and access rule. As a result, last year we saved the equivalent of at least:

  • 7,500 trees;
  • Greenhouse gas emissions of more than 250 cars driven for one year; and
  • Nearly 40 garbage trucks full of solid waste.

While the e-proxy may save Wells Fargo some money, its exaltation of its e-proxy’s green “benefits” is a bit unthinking, if not shortsighted:

  • Given that discarded proxy statements are only a small part of the waste stream, e-proxies won’t reduce garbage truck traffic or significantly increase landfill capacity. That’s good news for employees of garbage hauling companies and landfill operators./li>
  • Trees are a renewable resource. They are continually planted and harvested to make paper. Wells Fargo may have “saved” 7,500 trees, but how many jobs in the timber/paper industry will that cost? How many of those employees would have opened accounts at Wells Fargo?
  • Wells Fargo says it has saved the planet from the greenhouse gas emissions of 250 cars? Do you know how many cars Americans own? More than 250 million. Even if you buy into CO2 hysteria, trivial doesn’t begin describe the banks “achievement.”
  • And if we start applauding the removal of cars from the road, where will auto workers, gas station attendants, road workers, etc. work? Even Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm is starting to figure this one out.

Wells Fargo is going to need a healthy, growing and jobs-producing economy for the sake of its own prosperity.

People can’t live on green.

One Response to “Wells Fargo: Saving the planet or killing jobs?”

  1. schabotte Says:

    Gee… I guess they also forgot that lots of people would have printed these reports out on their printers to read them – assuming that anyone actually reads them at all.

    Imagine all those ink cartridges getting dumped in the trash.

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