Thanks for the Mercury

It isn't every day that a state's largest polluter is honored. It helps when the polluter -- and its buddies -- helped found and advise the group giving the award. The Maryland-based Wildlife Habitat Council gave biodiversity conservation awards to 21 companies, including the Lafarge cement plant in Ravena, New York. The award was for Lafarge's 150-acre Deer Mountain Nature Preserve. The honor was not publicized until the company came under fire for mercury contamination near a local high school. Federal reports show that the plant in question was New York state's largest mercury emitter for three years running. Environmentalists smell a case of greenwashing. "At first I thought it was a joke. Then I was astonished and horrified," said an analyst with the New York Public Interest Research Group. Joining Lafarge on the Wildlife Habitat Council's board of directors are representatives from Monsanto, Exxon Mobil, DuPont, ConocoPhillips and Waste Management. The conservation group Ducks Unlimited, which is funded by Exxon Mobil and Anheuser-Busch, also holds a seat. The Council gave "Signatures of Sustainability" awards to DuPont and Anheuser-Busch, both of which had a role in founding the group.