“Green” Corporations Among the Toxic 100

April 15th, 2008 by Phil Mattera

The appearance of a new version of the Political Economy Research Institute’s Toxic 100 is a useful reminder that, for all their feel-good green ads, large corporations are still defiling the environment in a major way. This year’s list of the biggest corporate air polluters is led by DuPont and includes household names such as Dow Chemical, Eastman Kodak, General Electric and Exxon Mobil among the top ten. The companies are ranked by their “toxic score,” which the Institute calculates by multiplying the amount of toxic air releases reported to the EPA by the relative toxicity of the chemicals involved and the size of the population at risk of exposure.

What’s new this year is the inclusion of foreign corporations with facilities in the United States. There are three such listings in the top ten portion of the Toxic 100: Nissan Motor, Bayer Group and ArcelorMittal.

It’s interesting to see that foreign companies can be no less hypocritical than their U.S. counterparts when it comes to saying one thing about the environment and doing another. Nissan USA brags on its website about its Green Program, which uses as its catch phrase “seeking a symbiosis of people, vehicles and nature.” Bayer just announced it “will partner with the United Nations Environment Programme’s Regional Office in North America to help sponsor the 36th annual World Environment Day celebration.”

Even more awkward is the appearance on the list of steel giant ArcelorMittal. Just last month, it was one of a handful of corporate sponsors of the green jobs conference put on in Pittsburgh by the Blue Green Alliance, led by the United Steelworkers and the Sierra Club. The conference program contained a full-page ad for the company saying: “At ArcelorMittal, Sustainability is one of the company’s core values.” Under the corporation’s name is the motto “Transforming tomorrow.” Perhaps ArcelorMittal should focus a bit more on transforming its air pollution problem today.

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