Waste Management, Inc. (WMI), the nation's largest waste hauler, owns and operates at least 115 landfills nationwide. The company owns a part interest in many other dumps. At a time when it is univerally recognized that landfills pollute the environment, WMI is our most aggressive and committed landfiller. Many, if not all, WMI landfill sites seem likely to become superfund sites in the future. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will then hire a contracter to try to clean up these sites at substantial cost to the taxpayer. One major contractor in the superfund cleanup business is Waste Management, Inc., and they have, in the past, won EPA contracts to clean up sites that they themselves contaminated. In the muddied moral environment of official Washington, such arrangements hardly even raise eyebrows anymore.
On the basis of their landfill operations alone, we believe it is correct to characterize WMI as the nation's largest polluter. A study of the waste hauling industry in 1986 by the Council on Economic Priorities also found that Waste Management is the least law abiding waste hauler in America. They have a record of environmental violations unparalleled among waste haulers.
For the last five years WMI has been conducting a public
relations program to blunt efforts by the environmental community
to curb the company's worst excesses. WMI's latest endeavor
involves direct payments to environmental organizations. Here is
a partial list of the groups that applied for, and received,
funding from Waste Management, Inc. during 1987 and 1988:
National Audubon Society (New York), $35,000; National Wildlife
Federation (Washington, DC), $35,000; Center for Environmental
Education (Washington, DC), $25,000; California Environmental
Trust, $15,000; Inform, Inc. (New York), $10,000; General
Federation of Women's Clubs (Washington, DC), $1,000; The Nature
Conservancy (Arlington, VA), $70,000; Sierra Club of California,
$1,500; The Wilderness Society (Washington, DC), $5,000;
Conservation Foundation (Washington, DC), $10,000; Keystone
Center (Keystone, Colorado), $20,000; Natural Resources Defense
Council (New York), $10,000; Environmental Law Institute
(Washington, DC), $15,000; National Wildlife Federation, $2,500;
World Resources Institute (Washington, DC), $5,000; Izaak Walton
League (Arlington, VA) $3,000.
--Peter Montague, Ph.D.
Descriptor terms: funders; wmi; foundations;