BlackRock owns more than 6 percent of Norfolk Southern Railway, the huge railway company whose train derailed in East Palestine, Ohio on February 3, causing what many are describing as an ecological and health disaster for residents of Ohio and nearby Pennsylvania.
Fintel.io reports that as of February 16, 2023, BlackRock owns 6.8 percent of Norfolk Southern Railway.
As The Ohio Star and The Star News Network, Fox News, the New York Times, and CNN have reported, Norfolk Southern has come under withering criticism for its handling of the February 3 train derailment and its aftermath.
BlackRock, and its CEO, Larry Fink, have become well known in recent years for pressuring executives in the publicly traded companies in which it invests to comply with ESG (Environment Social Governance) standards, which many critics have described as overwrought with coercive left wing political correctness.
Since the February 3 train derailment, however, BlackRock has been silent about the conduct of the executives who run Norfolk Southern.
On Thursday morning, The Ohio Star and The Star News Network asked the communications team at BlackRock if the management team at Norfolk Southern has handled the February 3, 2023 train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio in a manner that is consistent with its own ESG standards. As of the publication of this story, BlackRock has not responded.
The controversy surrounding the train derailment escalated when, at the recommendation of Norfolk Southern, Governor Mike DeWine (R-OH) ordered a “controlled burn” of vinyl chloride in five carriages of the derailed train on February 6. The resulting plume of smoke spread over East Palestine and neighboring Pennsylvania.
On Tuesday, Pennsylvania Gov. Josh Shapiro (D-PA) issued a scathing letter to Alan Shaw, CEO of Norfolk Southern, for his failure to consider alternatives to the February 6 controlled burn. When the burn took place on February 6, however, Shapiro praised the burn as successful.
On Wednesday, The New York Times reported that DeWine’s decision was heavily influenced by pressure from executives of Norfolk Southern.
On Wednesday evening, Norfolk Southern executives backed out of a town hall in East Palestine, Ohio, citing fears for their personal safety.
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Michael Patrick Leahy is the Editor in Chief of The Tennessee Star and The Star News Network. Follow Leahy on Twitter at @michaelpleahy.
Photos “Alan Shaw” and “Norfolk Train Yard” by Norfolk Southern and “Larry Fink” by BlackRock.