DiNapoli: 3M, Chemours should report on environmental justice in light of Hoosick Falls pollution

Joshua Solomon

Times Union

Dec 2, 2021

State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli, the trustee of the state's pension fund, requested 3M Company and Chemours Company issue a report on environmental justice in light of pollution in the state that he cites disproportionately hurts racial or ethnic minorities.

“Companies that create unequal environmental impacts on communities of color and economically impoverished communities put themselves and their investors at risk," DiNapoli said in a statement. "I want the companies we invest in to be responsible corporate citizens and address environmental justice risks. It’s just smart business.”

The two resolutions DiNapoli filed on behalf of the state could be included in both companies annual statements, which are voted on by shareholders. The companies could turn to federal regulators to be given permission to not include the request in its annual statement. The state and the companies could also reach an agreement prior to it going to all of the shareholders; agreements are often reached and then the resolution is withdrawn.

The state's pension fund is valued at $258 billion in total value of credit investments, according to the comptroller's office. It paid out $14 billion in retirement and death benefits over the past year.

The pension fund holds $229 million of fair value in 3M, in nearly 1.2 million shares, and $5.5 million of fair value in Chemours in nearly 200,000 shares, according to a state asset list.

DiNapoli, in his letter to 3M, cited a $65 million settlement this year over contaminated drinking water in Hoosick Falls. 3M was one of a few companies that were included in the settlement.

In his letter to Chemours, DiNapoli cited litigation by the state attorney general's office, related to its sale and manufacturing of PFAS (polyfluoroalkyl substances) that had allegedly contaminated groundwater supplies.

The request calls for the companies to annually update the state, a shareholder, with its "efforts, above and beyond legal and regulatory compliance, to identify and reduce heightened environmental and health impacts from its operations on communities of color and low-income communities," according to the letter.

DiNapoli hopes the report could help shareholders, like New York, assess long-term risks in the companies, which could face future "controversies that result in reputational, legal, compliance and financial risks."