(Updated Tuesday, Aug. 28, 2:30 p.m., UMass removes Textron from list)
AMHERST, Mass. – Textron Inc. – the Providence-based company that includes Bell Helicopter and Cessna Aircraft – was named the No. 2 corporate air polluter in America by researchers at the Political Economy Research Institute at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.
On Wednesday, the institutue released its 4th Toxic 100 Air Polluters list, a list of the top corporate air polluters in the U.S.
According to a release, Textron has seen its air emissions record deteriorate dramatically, rising in ranking from 75th in 2008 to 43rd in 2010 and 2nd on this year’s list.
“The Toxic 100 Air Polluters informs consumers and shareholders which large corporations release the most toxic pollutants into our air,” James Boyce, co-director of PERI’s Corporate Toxics Information project, said in a statement.
The list is based on air releases of hundreds of chemicals from tens of thousands of industrial facilities across the country. According to the release, the rankings take into account not only the quantity of releases but also the toxicity of the chemicals and factors including prevailing winds, height of smokestacks and the number of people exposed.
Textron spokesperson David Sylvestre said that the ranking is “not an accurate reflection of the company’s environmental impact,” adding that the UMass list is based on 2007 emissions data.
“It is five years out of date. Current Textron emissions are much lower,” added Sylvestre. “Furthermore, these emissions are legally permitted by state and federal environmental authorities.”
In the most recent Newsweek Green rankings, which scored the environmental impact of the top 500 U.S. companies, Textron scored 186th, where 1st is the “greenest.”
“The company has major, multi-year initiatives in progress to continually improve its environmental, health and safety performance,” said Sylvestre.
“We assess not just how many pounds of pollutants are released, but which are the most toxic and how many people are at risk. People have a right to know about toxic hazards to which they are exposed,” said Boyce. “Legislators need to understand the effects of pollution on their constituents.”
The five worst air polluters in the U.S. on the PERI list were the Bayer Group, Textron, General Electric Co., Precision Castparts and Koch Industries, respectively.