There was a time, and not long ago, when eco-scolds could breathe General Electric and Exxon Mobil in the same damning sentence and feel they'd done their good deed in public truth-telling.
After all, GE has responsibility for more than 80 Superfund sites around the country, including the massive PCB contamination of the Hudson River in New York, and it has fought for years to avoid the costly cleanups of some of those sites. Exxon, on the other hand, has the Valdez, its campaign against climate science and its profitable contribution to global warming.
Exxon is the No. 1 most profitable company in the U.S. (in fact, in the world) and GE is No. 2, making them both easy targets in an era when success isn't always a public relations win.
But GE, at least, is playing a role in creating the development of the low-carbon economy. It manufactures and sells everything from efficient home appliances to wind turbines. Environmental advocates have long wished that GE would employ its genius on environmental remediation, but it is at least employing its genius to create new (and of course, profitable) next-generation products.
You can't say the same about Exxon.
One is looking to the future. The other seems to have its head stuck in the tar sands.
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