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Green Apple: company’s environmental agenda scrutinized

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Michael Bastasch DCNF Managing Editor
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Apple’s environmental activism is increasingly drawing scrutiny from critics who say the company prioritizes the greens over green.

Critics say the tech giant is “extremely good at looking green,” but they would like to know at what cost.

Although the tension has been building for some time, it spilled over at a recent Apple shareholders meeting. Activists with the free-market National Center for Public Policy Research presented a proposal to disclose the costs of the company’s green efforts. After it was rejected, an NCPPR activist drew the ire of CEO Tim Cook, who said that those who don’t believe in the severity of global warming should “get out of this stock.”

“What ensued was the only time I can recall seeing Tim Cook angry, and he categorically rejected the worldview behind the NCPPR’s advocacy,” reported the Mac Observer. “He said that there are many things Apple does because they are right and just, and that a return on investment (ROI) was not the primary consideration on such issues.”

NCPPR’s shareholder proposal would have also required Apple to be more transparent about its role in “certain trade associations and business organizations promoting the amorphous concept of environmental sustainability.”

NCPPR’s Justin Danhof recalled his confrontation with Cook on the issue of Apple’s environmental agenda. He asked if he would consider amending Apple’s corporate documents “to state that the company would only engage in environmental projects where there was some business motive such as a reasonable return on investment.”

“Cook became unhinged,” Danhof told The Daily Caller News Foundation. “The CEO who gave a businesslike presentation about Apple’s past year, absolutely lost it. He said that investors who are simply focused on ROI – like me – should get out of the stock.

“Al Gore and his contingency loudly cheered Cook’s incoherent rant.  In all honesty, I was embarrassed for Cook.  My guess is he has surrounded himself with friends and yes-men at Apple, and hardly ever receives criticism. Clearly he was unable to handle a slight inquiry into the efficacy and costs of Apple’s environmental program with any dignity.”

Apple has even pledged to get 100 percent of its energy from green sources, like wind and solar. In 2013, the company got 85 percent of its U.S. power from green sources.

Apple was recognized last September by the Environmental Protection Agency for its use of green power, winning a “Green Power Leadership Award” for on-site green energy generation.

“Apple supplies all of its data centers with 100 percent renewable energy though its own projects or through grid-purchased renewable energy,” according to the EPA. “For its largest data center, in Maiden, North Carolina, it has committed to more than 60 percent Apple-owned generation and achieves this by having constructed the nation’s largest end user-owned, solar photovoltaic array — a 20-megawatt (MW) facility on 100 acres of land — and a 10-MW fuel cell installation supplied by directed biogas, the largest non-utility fuel cell installation operating anywhere in the country.”

The company even hired former EPA director Lisa Jackson last year after she left the Obama administration. Former Vice President Al Gore sits on the board of directors.

“Apple is extremely good at looking green,” Amy Ridenour, NCPPR’s chairman, told TheDCNF. “Why is Al Gore on its board? Because of his computer expertise or backside he helps make Apple look green? And why did Apple hire the Obama Administration’s scandal-plagued EPA Administrator? Is it because executives who circumvent transparency laws are highly prized, or because hiring her makes Apple look green?”

“Tim Cook’s statement to us that we could get out of his stock if we don’t share his supposedly global warming-related priorities may have simply been yet another way to make the company look green,” she added.

Apple did not respond to TheDCNF’s request for comment.

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