The oil company Unocal fuels millions of cars, but its global operations have also
fueled a backlash. Last fall, prodded by students and seven Nobel Peace Prize winners, the University of Virginia divested 50,000 shares of stock from the California-based company. The University of Minnesota has also taken a stand, divesting $1.5 million from the French oil company Total-Unocal's partner on a $2.1 billion pipeline project in Burma.
Unocal has been inspiring outrage on college campuses and elsewhere for doing business with Burma's violent military junta, which was hired by the oil company to provide security for its Yadana pipeline project. Unocal is currently being sued in U.S. federal court for alleged human-rights violations associated with the project-including slave labor, forced relocation of entire villages, rape, and torture.
Until the 1998 bombings of U.S. embassies in Tanzania and Kenya, linked to Al Qaeda, Unocal had also been working on a deal with Afghanistan to build a pipeline through that country. The company's chief negotiator in those talks is now the Bush administration's special envoy to Kabul.
When Hurricane Floyd roared through North Carolina in 1999, it drowned more than 100,000 swine in factory farms. Their raw waste, collected in massive open pits, poured into rivers and streams-contaminating water supplies throughout the eastern region of the state.
In a farsighted effort to avoid another such hellacious mess, North Carolina's Clean Water Management Trust Fund is providing more than $6 million this year to buy out hog operations in the state's 100-year floodplain. The goal is to get rid of high-risk factory farms, while encouraging less-polluting agricultural endeavors.
Last year, the fund eliminated 32 waste pits at 14 concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs). By 2003, the state hopes to put an
additional 15 CAFOs out of their misery.
Where to Work
Some companies (we won't name names) don't deserve the accolades they've gotten from business magazines. But Patagonia not only has a healthy bottom line, it is also ranked 41st on Fortune's 2002 list of the best companies to work for. The California-based outdoor-clothing manufacturer encourages its employees to take a two-month paid leave to volunteer with an environmental organization. Patagonia also donates 1 percent of annual sales or 10 percent of its pre-tax profit-whichever is higher-to conservation efforts. Since 1985, the company has given over $17 million to grassroots activists and green groups, including the Sierra Club. Oh yes, and it serves organic food in its cafeteria, offers training sessions in nonviolent civil disobedience, uses only organic cotton, makes some of its clothes out of recycled soda bottles, and offers a voucher worth $2,000 to employees who buy