Saint Leo University
The environment is fragile and forever-changing due to man’s interactions. Society has devised laws to help protect, restore, and ensure that the environment’s resources continue to exist for future generations. Corporations sometimes lose sight of these concepts and it is left to governmental agencies to enforce laws designed to protect the environment without bias or monetary incentives.
Keywords: environment, ethical, pollution, laws
The effects of environmental destruction are getting worse and it is becoming an increasingly discussed topic. The world’s population has increased exponentially and animal natural habitats are disappearing to make room for this human expansion. Resources like water and land are being depleting at record rates, and nature is unable to replenish what is used. As a result of this human consumption coupled with poor environmental planning, the earth is unable to sustain life in certain areas. There are corporations that use natural resources to make money, thus creating jobs and providing revenue for the geographic areas where they are located. There are also conservation groups looking out for the environment, animals and habitats at risk of exploitation. There are numerous law enforcement agencies ranging from the federal level down to the smallest municipalities that have the ability to enforce various laws relating to the protection of the environment.
Some of the largest corporations on the planet derive their income by using the planet’s resources. These assets range from lumber, water, coal, metal ores, and various petroleum/gas products. The extraction of any of these resources cannot help but leave some impact upon the environment. This impact may appear in the form of large stretches of land bare of trees, large machinery used to siphon water or gas products that in turn create noise, air, and water pollution through either their direct operation or their byproducts. Among the largest corporations in the world are those in the petroleum business.
The first petroleum business to examine is ExxonMobil. It is “world's largest publicly traded international oil and gas company, providing energy that helps underpin growing economies and improve living standards around the world” (ExxonMobil, 2010). ExxonMobil’s most notable disaster is more commonly referred to as the Exxon Valdez accident, which was named after a cargo ship carrying a load of crude oil. On March 24, 1989, the tanker Exxon Valdez, en route from Valdez, Alaska to Los Angeles, California, ran aground on Bligh Reef in Prince William Sound, Alaska. The vessel was traveling outside normal shipping lanes in an attempt to avoid ice. Within six hours of the grounding, the Exxon Valdez spilled approximately 10.9 million gallons of its 53 million gallon cargo of Prudhoe Bay crude oil. Eight of the eleven tanks on board were damaged. The oil would eventually impact over 1,100 miles of non-continuous coastline in Alaska, making the Exxon Valdez the largest oil spill to date [May, 2010] in U.S. waters (Cleveland, C., 2010).
Although ExxonMobil has had record profits in the billions, “it continues to stonewall on paying roughly $5 billion to fishing communities and Native Alaskans in punitive damages assessed for the impact of the Exxon Valdez spill” (Mokhiber & Weissman, 2005).
The second petroleum business to be discussed is British Petroleum, better known as BP. This company is headquartered in London, England with offices and operations located throughout the world. “BP is one of the world's largest energy companies, providing its customers with fuel for transportation, energy for heat and light, retail services and petrochemicals products for everyday items” (BP, 2010). While it may be one of the largest in their industry, BP’s reputation for acquiring monetary fines for violations of environmental...