Polluter's Dilemna

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THE POLLUTER'S DILEMMA
Jonica Gunson is the environmental compliance manager for a small plastics manufacturing company. She is currently faced with the decision whether or not to spend money on new technology that will reduce the level of a particular toxin in the wastewater that flows out the back of the factory and into a lake. The factory's emission levels are currently within legal limits. However, Jonica knows that environmental regulations for this particular toxin are lagging behind scientific evidence. In fact, a scientist from the university had been quoted in the newspaper recently, saying that if emission levels stayed at this level, the fish in the lakes and rivers in the area might soon have to be declared unsafe for human consumption. An environmental group has also started to watch these issues recently. Further, if companies in the region don't engage in some self-regulation on this issue, there is reason to fear that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) — backed by public opinion — may force companies to begin using the new technology, and may also begin requiring monthly emission level reports (which would be both expensive and time consuming). The EPA does not need Congressional approval to act under environmental statutes, but it does have to publish its intent to implement a new or changed standard in the Federal Register. The EPA has conducted regional hearings that have been well attended by regional citizens. But the company's environmental compliance budget is tight. Asking for this new technology to be installed would put Jonica's department over-budget, would become carefully scrutinized by company executives, and could jeopardize the company's ability to show a profit this year.

Study Questions

A.Who are the stakeholders who are/will be affected in this scenario?

B.What are the ethical questions that are involved? Be sure to distinguish between issues that are primarily right-and-wrong (e.g., ethical or...
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