Who Are the Top Polluters of Air, Water & Climate in the US?

Which are the most polluting companies in the US in terms of air, water and greenhouse gases? 

As you might expect, there’s some overlap: Dow Chemical, American Electric Power, Southern Company and the US Government are in the top 10 for two categories.

Research by the Political Economy Research Institute (PERI) at University of Massachusetts/ Amherst identifies the top 100 polluters, below is the top 10 for air, water and greenhouse gases.

Researchers compile the list based on how many pounds of pollutants they release as well as the toxicity of chemicals – and in the case of air pollution – how many people are exposed because of how far the pollution travels and height of smokestacks.

A number of companies on the lists also have strong sustainability efforts, but they still don’t counteract their overall business, like Dow’s solar shingles below, BASF’s Double Platinum LEED certification and GE’s leadership on wind

Solar Shingles

They developed each of The Toxic 100 lists by analyzing tens of thousands of industrial plants in the US.

Top 10 Air Polluters: 

Precision Castparts
The Bayer Group
Dow Chemical
LyondellBasell Industries
Renco Group 
General Electric

You can get lots of details on these polluters on their website, such as chemicals emitted and where the factories are located.  Although minorities make up less than 40% of US population, they bear 74% of the air toxics risk from facilities owned by ExxonMobil, say researchers.

"In making this information available, we are building on the achievements of the right-to-know movement," explains Professor Michael Ash, co-Director of the Corporate Toxics Information Project. "Our goal is to engender public participation in environmental decision-making, and to help residents translate the right to know into the right to clean air."

Top 10 Water Polluters:

Ohio Valley Electric
American Electric Power
U.S. Department of Defense
Southern Company
U.S. Tennessee Valley Authority
PPL Corp.
Dominion Resources
Dow Chemical 
Evonik Industries AG

Top 10 Greenhouse Gas Emitters

American Electric Power
Duke Energy
Southern Company 
U.S. Government
Berkshire Hathaway
Ameren Corporation
Luminant Generation Company
First Energy Generation Corp
AES Corporation
Xcel Energy
US Steel

The top three companies account for 5% of US greenhouse gases, emitting over 100 million tons of carbon a year each – as much as the average annual emissions of 73 million automobiles. 

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