Researchers at the University of Massachusetts Amherst Political Economy Research Institute (PERI) today released the latest yearly editions of its Toxic 100 lists of the top corporate air and water polluters and top greenhouse gas emitters in the United States, based on the most recent data available from the Environmental Protection Agency.
New this year is the Greenhouse Suppliers 100 Index, which ranks U.S. companies by the amount that their distribution of fossil fuels contributes to global climate change. This new list joins the Greenhouse 100 Index, which ranks U.S. companies by their emissions responsible for global climate change according to the EPA Greenhouse Gas Reporting Program, and the Toxic 100 Air and Toxic 100 Water Indexes, which rank U.S. industrial polluters using the EPA Toxics Release Inventory. The indexes, created as part of PERI’s Corporate Toxics Information Project, once again include environmental justice indicators to assess impacts on low-income people and minorities.
“The Toxic 100 and Greenhouse 100 inform consumers, shareholders, regulators, lawmakers and communities which large corporations release toxic and climate-altering pollutants into our environment,” says Michael Ash, professor of economics at UMass Amherst and co-director of the Corporate Toxics Information Project. “We assess not just how many pounds of pollutants are released, but which are the most toxic and who is exposed. People have a right to know about toxic hazards to which they are exposed. Legislators need to understand the effects of pollution on their constituents.”
For the first time, PERI has published a Greenhouse Suppliers 100 Index, which ranks U.S. companies by their 2020 supply of products that result in greenhouse gas emissions when the products are released, combusted or oxidized. The top five companies on this year’s inaugural list, in order, are Marathon Petroleum, Phillips 66, Valero Energy, Exxon Mobil and Peabody Energy. The first four of these are primarily on the list because of their petroleum refining operations, although the top two also conduct natural gas extraction. Fifth-ranked Peabody Energy is on the list due to its coal mining ventures. The top four each produced fossil fuels that resulted in 280 million metric tons or more of CO2-equivalent emissions. Rounding out the top 10 greenhouse suppliers are Enterprise Products Partners, Chevron, BP, Arch Resources and Shell PLC.
The Greenhouse 100 Index ranks companies by 2020 direct emissions of greenhouse gasses from large sources. The top three companies are Vistra Energy, Duke Energy, and Southern Company, the fourth year in a row in which these companies were in the top three spots. They each released more than 75 million metric tons of CO2-equivalent emissions. Together these three companies released 4% of all U.S. greenhouse gas emissions from all sources including non-energy sources.
The rest of the top 10 in the Greenhouse 100 are Berkshire Hathaway, American Electric Power, Energy Capital Partners, NextEra Energy, Xcel Energy, the U.S government and Exxon Mobil, the top company whose direct emissions are not dominated by electric power plants. Among the top 10, Energy Capital Partners has the highest weighted share of minorities living within 10 miles of its facilities.
In order, LyondellBasell, BASF, Becton Dickinson, Salzgitter, Huntsman, Dow Inc, Canopus International, Celanese, Berkshire Hathaway and NOV Inc. lead the Toxic 100 Air Polluters Index, which reports the top companies in 2020 in terms of total potential chronic human health risk from toxic chemical air pollutants. Five of these companies are in the top 10 almost entirely because of chromium or ethylene oxide released from one of their facilities. The Toxic 100 Air Index covers both publicly traded and privately held companies, such as Koch Industries (No. 58), that appear on Forbes, Fortune or S&P lists. The index includes environmental justice indicators that denote, for example, while minorities make up just under 40% of the U.S. population, they bear 68% of the air-toxics risk from facilities owned by LyondellBasell.
The Toxic 100 Water Polluters Index, which ranks the pounds of toxics released into surface water or sent to water-treatment systems in 2020, adjusted for chemical toxicity, is led this year by Northrop Grumman, LyondellBasell, NextEra Industries, Dow Inc., and Cargill. The Toxic 100 Water Polluters list also once again includes environmental justice indicators that show, for example, minorities bear 63% of the toxic hazard created by Dow from water releases and transfers to water treatment facilities.
In addition to the top 100 lists, search functions for toxic air, toxic water and greenhouse gas polluters provide information on all companies reporting releases or production to the Toxics Release Inventory, the Greenhouse Gas Reporting Program or the EIA-7A coal mine survey. Data related to Air Toxics at School and the Coal Producers Index is also searchable through the Corporate Toxics Information Project.
“In making this information available, we are building on the achievements of the right-to-know movement,” Ash notes. “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, clean water, and a livable planet.”