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December 19, 2008
Co-op America Names Top Corporate Scrooges
    by Robert Kropp

CEOs named to the list represent a range of business sectors and a diversity of social and environmental malfeasances.

Just in time for the holidays, Co-op America, in conjunction with its Responsible Shopper campaign, has issued its list of the worst corporate "Scrooges" of 2008.

According to Co-op America, the four CEOs who made the list this year "had to have a decidedly negative impact in a year in which the greed of corporate managers helped create a severe downward economic spiral."

Charles Prince, the former CEO of Citigroup, was named to the list "for wrecking the economy" for his role in the economic collapse of world's largest financial services group, which has led to 23,000 layoffs and could lead to 50,000 more. While lobbying for the deregulation of the banking industry, Prince was responsible for Citigroup's risky business practices, which included predatory mortgage lending. Furthermore, Co-op America noted, "Citigroup is one of the top financers of coal mining and coal-fired power plants."

John J. Harris, chairman and CEO of Nestle Waters, was included for "putting profits before people and the planet." After Miami-Dade County in Florida aired public service messages informing people that the its public tap water was cheaper, safer, and purer than bottled water, Nestle Waters threatened to sue, calling the ads "an attack on the integrity of the company." Studies have shown that tap water is as safe as bottled water. Furthermore, "the bottling and shipping of water creates major environmental impacts, including water depletion and pollution, increased plastic in landfills, and climate change emissions," according to Co-op America.

Bruce Williamson, CEO of Dynegy, made the list for planning to develop six new coal-fired power plants. The carbon emitted from coal plants are a key factor in global climate change; coal is the largest source of carbon dioxide emissions worldwide, and accounts for almost 40 percent of carbon dioxide pollution in the United States. Williamson was also a runner-up for this yearís Fossil Fool of the Year Award for plans to build more new power plants than any other energy company.

Rick Wagoner, chairman and CEO of General Motors, was cited for "seeking a handout from the government while fighting its regulations." He was famously derided for traveling by private jet to Washington to ask Congress for a bailout of the auto industry. Wagoner was also awarded this yearís Fossil Fool Award for, a website that touts General Motors' environmental achievements even though the company is among the most powerful opponents to climate change regulations and higher emissions standards.

Co-op America is a nonprofit organization that has been developing people-powered economic strategies to address the most pressing social and environmental issues of our times for 25 years. In January, 2009, Co-op America will change its name to Green America.


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