It becomes popular to punish hedge funds for shorting stocks, but what about companies that actually poison our bodies and destroy the environment?
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I am sure many of you have seen “Dark Waters” which tells the story of attorney Mark Ruffalo (Robert Bilott), who takes a stand against a chemical company DuPont that has been poisoning a local town for years. In a few words, Bilott and his colleagues discovered that PFOA once used to make Teflon, had leached into the water in several communities located in Ohio and West Virginia. What followed was a long legal battle (basically two decades) to prove the chemical’s toxicity, and in 2017, DuPont settled more than 3,500 personal injury lawsuits for roughly $670 million (that number is ridiculous low).
According to an NBC News investigation, in 2015, as problems associated with PFAS were becoming clearer, DuPont began a series of complex transactions that transformed the company’s structure. As a result of the transactions, responsibility for environmental obligations associated with the chemicals shifted onto other entities. DuPont is not the only one involved in litigations, in particular, 3M is also fighting the suits and says it is cooperating with government investigators.
Earlier this January, DuPont, Chemours, and Corteva announced a cost-sharing agreement worth $4 billion to settle lawsuits involving the historic use of the highly toxic “forever chemicals” known as PFAS
In the fourth quarter of 2020 Dupont’s net sales totaled $5.3 billion, Cash provided by operating activities was $4,095 million, and $1,409 million for the years ended December 31, 2020, and 2019. Is $4 billion a fair fine? Well, definitely better than $670 million, even though I think it’s just crazy that no single person faced criminal charges over the Teflon scandal.
Without any doubt, a similar situation will happen with “Clean coal” companies, like DTE Energy and Duke Energy. Now, what the thing is about and why Congress began investigating ‘clean coal’ tax credit?
The refined coal subsidy was adopted by Congress and signed into law by President George W. Bush as part of the American Jobs Creation Act of 2004, alongside credits for generating renewable energy from solar and wind. The legislation had broad bipartisan support and generated little public debate.
The idea was that new coal plants would capture the carbon dioxide emitted from smokestacks and bury it underground as a way of limiting global warming. Unfortunately, companies had little incentive to install the necessary scrubbers and pipelines in the absence of stricter climate regulations or a price on carbon.
In 2018, Reuters published research claiming that “U.S. taxpayers have spent billions of dollars subsidizing chemically treated refined coal, but a Reuters analysis of EPA data shows that the power plants burning it often pump out more smog, not less.”
So-called clean coal companies regularly failed to deliver on their environmental promises, as electric giant Duke Energy Corp found. The crazy part is that in almost three years of burning the treated coal, the Duke power plants collected several million dollars in federal subsidies. But the plants also pumped out more NOx, not less.
The utility also discovered that one of the chemicals used to refine the coal, calcium bromide, had reached a nearby river and lakes – raising levels of carcinogens in the water supply for more than a million people in greater Charlotte. Sounds familiar, doesn’t it?
Overall, most of the plants receiving the subsidy failed to reduce NOx emissions by 20 percent – the threshold required under the policy – in 2017 compared to 2009, the last year before they started burning refined coal. Thus, they took advantage of the subsidy but didn’t do what was promised, what a surprise hmm…
A bunch of money has gone also to financial institutions like JPMorgan Chase and Goldman Sachs Group, drugmaker Mylan, and DTE Energy Co. Only now, Congress decided to investigate reports that some recipients of a tax credit for “clean coal” production increased rather than cut pollution.
Also our beloved Tesla site in Grünheide in the eastern state of Brandenburg was burnt to prevent the construction of the very first Tesla factory in the EU. The Far-left activists claimed that it was not an accident but targeted arson. In a lawsuit against Tesla, activists indicated that the destruction of the forest can lead to the destruction of habitats and the death of protected animals – lizards and snakes. In addition, construction equipment will disturb forest dwellers during hibernation, and excavation of land will lead to problems with water supplies in the region. Tesla stock price did not react to the incident.
What I am trying to say is that even if litigation actually takes place; once again, no one will face criminal charges for poisoning soils and air… The worst thing is that clean coal companies’ stocks are on all-time highs. It is true that some of them already closed that kind of fabric but does it mean they can go away with fraud?