CSO Blair Wimbush

Norfolk Southern’s sustainability program at age 5 can be likened to one of the 6 million trees we’ve committed to plant in the Mississippi Alluvial Valley. It’s in the ground, it’s well rooted, and it’s growing strong, supported by nurturing partners.

That’s what our sustainability program is all about – connecting with partners who share our vision for responsible corporate environmental stewardship.

I am pleased to report that in the past year leading up to this 2012 sustainability report, we have made significant progress toward fulfillment of several major initiatives as part of our overall sustainability mission.

Even as increased demand for our freight transportation services has led to higher fuel consumption, we are constantly working to improve our greenhouse gas intensity. We have achieved substantial further gains in our five-year greenhouse gas emissions reduction goal. After two years, we are at 60 percent of the goal, which you can read about in this report.

We have completed about 25 percent of our project with GreenTrees, a privately managed reforestation and carbon capture provider, to reforest 10,000 acres in the Mississippi Delta. We have planted some 1.5 million native cottonwoods and hardwoods in the area. This undertaking produces meaningful environmental, economic, and social benefits in an important ecosystem long served by the railroad.

In a continuing effort to strengthen our environmental connections, we have committed funding to support research by the Longleaf Alliance, whose mission is to ensure a sustainable future for the longleaf pine ecosystem. Data produced thus far demonstrates the potential value of longleaf pines for long-term carbon capture, thereby improving the ecosystem’s attractiveness as an investment for carbon reforestation programs. We have a big stake in the health of longleaf pines. One of the largest privately owned longleaf pine forests thrives within Norfolk Southern’s Brosnan Forest in South Carolina. There, we are working with conservationists to preserve the forest and the endangered red-cockaded woodpecker, dependent on longleaf pines for its habitat.

These are but a few of the ways we connect our sustainability efforts to the planet’s environmental health. As we engage in future opportunities, we will continue to seek out real-world applications that enable us to make a difference beyond what just impacts us directly.

Blair Wimbush, Vice President Real Estate and Corporate Sustainability Officer