Nuclear corporate court verdicts are on the rise, according to a report by New York-based Marathon Strategies. It found that verdicts of more than $10M grew 55 percent during the decade following the Great Recession.

The sums have become so large that Marathon created a “thermonuclear” label for verdicts more than $100M.

The tobacco, automotive, pharmaceutical, finance and IT software sectors have taken the greatest hits from court cases.

Observers cite corporate mistrust, social pessimism, erosion of tort reform, public desensitization to large numbers and shifts in jury pool demographics as some of the reasons for the big size of verdicts.

A robust corporate PR program is the best insurance against a nuclear verdict.

ConocoPhillips heartily applauded the Interior Dept’s decision to approve its massive Project Willow oil and gas drilling development located in the National Petroleum Reserve on Alaska’s North Slope.

But it got carried away a bit with the claim that the $8B development fits within the Biden administration’s priorities on environmental and social justice.

Considering the vehement opposition to both Willow and the Interior Dept.’s decision expressed by environmental groups, ConocoPhillips’ statement exists in the realm of alternate reality.

Christy Goldfuss, Natural Resources Defense Council’s chief impact officer, said Team Biden made a grievous mistake. “It greenlights a carbon bomb, sets back the climate fight and emboldens an industry hellbent on destroying the planet.”

Natalie Mebane, Greenpeace USA’s climate director, said approving the largest oil extraction project on federal lands is incredibly hypocritical of president Biden, who in his state of the union speech, called the climate crisis an existential threat.

ConocoPhillips is right to say that Willow, which will produce 180K barrels of oil per day at its peak, will enhance energy security and create more than 2,500 construction jobs in Alaska and another 300 long-term positions.

But claiming that it fits with White House’s environmental goals is fake news.

It is projected that the oil burned from Willow will release 280 million metric tons of carbon emissions into the atmosphere. That’s the equivalent of adding two million cars on the road.

In okaying Willow, the White House took a big step backward from its effort to fight against global warming.

Target aces the test…The retailer recorded the first A+ grade on the sixth annual “Racial and Gender Pay Scoreboard” complied by Arjuna Capital and Proxy Impact.

A dozen of the 68 companies surveyed scored an “A.” That includes Starbucks, Mastercard, Microsoft, Pfizer, Bank of New York Mellon, Citigroup, Adobe, American Express, Visa, Lowe’s, Best Buy and Home Depot.

The scorecard assesses companies’ pay equity data against best practice pay equity reporting standards.

Twenty-five companies got a “F” due to a lack of transparency. Alphabet, Marriott, Goldman Sachs, Charles Schwab and Walmart got failing marks.

Those companies better hit the books.