DiNapoli calls out greenhouse gas emitters

Brian Nearing

Times Union

Apr 3, 2018

State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli is calling out some of the nation's largest energy companies, utilities and an airline to cut their emissions of climate-changing greenhouse gases.

Last month, DiNapoli's office wrote to ten firms whose stock is held in the state retirement fund, and have the largest emissions of greenhouse gases, which an international scientific consensus identifies as the cause of ongoing man-made climate change.

"As a long-term investor, we want the companies in our portfolio to demonstrate a commitment to sustainability, lower emissions and a low-carbon future," he said. "Climate risk is one of the greatest threats to the state pension fund and its long-term investments."

While the state holds about $2 billion in the stock of the ten companies, representing about 1 percent of the $209 billion Common Retirement fund, those ten firms account for more than 20 percent of total greenhouse gas emissions from all companies in the fund.

DiNapoli's letters urged those companies to commit to cutting greenhouse gas emissions in accordance with the Paris climate accord. Last year, President Donald Trump announced he was pulling the U.S. out of the agreement, which could make the U.S. the only country in the world not to be part.

DiNapoli's letters went to:

— Martin Marietta Materials, a construction materials firm.

— Berkshire Hathaway Inc., a diversified firm controlled by billionaire investor Warren Buffett.

— Southern Company, the nation's second largest utility, with nine million customers in the southern states. The company runs coal-fired power plants.

— Valero Energy Corp. and Phillips 66, which are both petroleum refiners.

— Entergy Corp., a utility with 2.7 million customers in the south, and the owner of the Indian Point nuclear facility in Westchester County.

— Excel Energy, a midwestern utility company with coal-fired power plants with about 5.1 million customers.

— Delta Air Lines.

— NextEra Energy, the nation's third largest utility with about 5 million customers in Florida.

— Calpine Corp., the nation's tenth largest utility with customers across 25 states.