Thomas Friedman's column, "If Wal-Mart can lead, why not our government?" tries to lull us into thinking that Wal-Mart cares about the environment, ignoring Wal-Mart's negative impacts. Wal-Mart says it wants to change its Styrofoam coolers to a more environmentally friendly material, but anyone paying close attention might dismiss the idea that Wal-Mart cares about the environment.
According to Forbes magazine, Wal-Mart's history of degrading the environment goes way back. In 2001, Wal-Mart paid a $1.5 million fine and established a $4.5 million environmental management program to settle federal charges that it violated the Clean Water Act at 17 sites in four states. The runoff violations from Wal-Mart construction sites polluted drinking water, streams and lakes. In 2004, Clean Water Act violations cost Wal-Mart another $3.1 million in penalties. In 2005, Wal-Mart was slapped with $1.5 million in environmental penalties in Connecticut.
Americans like convenience and humans need clean air to breathe, and we want a good community to live in, a good-paying job, etc. But contrary to Wal-Mart's marketing propaganda meant to polish our apples, Wal-Mart's hype doesn't keep us happy or viable. It is incomprehensible that Wal-Mart is newly concerned about our environment, when it continues to violate EPA laws.