FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Our Dirty Double Standard for Corporate Polluters

Photo by thierry ehrmann | CC BY 2.0

We have much for which to be thankful for here in Montana — vast landscapes, stunning mountain ranges, crystal-clear lakes and blue-ribbon trout rivers that are the envy of anglers worldwide.

But one thing we shouldn’t and can’t be thankful for is the double standard by which our society and its so-called “regulatory” agencies treat corporate polluters compared to private citizens. Proof positive is the recent announcement that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has yet to fine anyone for the deaths of more than 3,000 snow geese on Butte’s Berkeley Pit last year. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which is supposed to be protecting our public wildlife, had “no comment.”

The EPA/Fish and Wildlife Service could have levied fines of up to $5,000 per dead snow goose on BP-ARCO and Montana Resources, the two private corporate entities that own the toxic disaster known as the Berkeley Pit. Mind you, these two scions of multi-national corporate giants are far from broke.

The real name of BP-ARCO is British Petroleum–Atlantic Richfield Company. BP is a London-based corporation and the sixth-largest oil and gas company in the world. In 2016 alone, BP brought in $183,000,000,000 (that’s billion) in revenues and its CEO’s salary was a stunning $11.6 million, down from his 2015 salary and benefits of $19.6 million after a shareholder revolt.

Montana Resources is owned by Dennis Washington, who has an estimated personal net worth of $6.2 billion, making him the richest person in Montana and the 75th richest person in the U.S. as ranked by Forbes, which added: “He spent an estimated quarter of a billion dollars fixing up his yacht.”

These are the corporations and individuals sitting at the top of their industrial and social ladders, living lavish lifestyles and accumulating vast wealth on a daily basis. Dennis Washington’s net worth rose by $100 million in the last year alone. Yet Trump’s EPA and Fish and Wildlife Service doesn’t feel justified to fine these companies for the destruction of more than 3,000 publicly-owned snow geese — and make no mistake, in the United States, wildlife is owned by the public, not by the government, not by individuals and certainly not by the corporations that so regularly degrade their habitat, threaten their very existence and all too often are responsible for their fatalities.

Rather than levying the $15 million in fines they could have collected from these corporate polluters, the “regulatory” agencies that are supposed to be protecting our environment and wildlife decided to settle for nothing. Sorry Americans, but despite the destruction of your assets, we simply can’t bring ourselves to hold the private corporations financially responsible for the carnage.

Those fines could make a huge difference in addressing the perpetual problem of the Berkeley Pit, especially since the EPA’s budget is being cut a whopping $538 million in the latest House bill — about 30 percent. But instead of the fines, the agency and the corporate polluters agreed to set up an advisory committee to find a minimal-cost “solution” to the deadly pit.

One might wonder where are the voices of our elected officials, the people we pay to protect our publicly owned resources. But the silence from the governor and our congressional delegation is deafening — and that speaks volumes about whom these “public servants” actually serve.

If any citizen illegally killed a fraction of that many snow geese, they’d be charged, fined, and lose their hunting and fishing privileges. But since those responsible for the mass goose slaughter were corporations, they don’t even get a slap on the wrist.

More articles by:

George Ochenski is a columnist for the Missoulian, where this essay originally appeared.

April 23, 2018
Patrick Cockburn
In Middle East Wars It Pays to be Skeptical
Thomas Knapp
Just When You Thought “Russiagate” Couldn’t Get Any Sillier …
Gregory Barrett
The Moral Mask
Robert Hunziker
Chemical Madness!
David Swanson
Senator Tim Kaine’s Brief Run-In With the Law
Dave Lindorff
Starbucks Has a Racism Problem
Uri Avnery
The Great Day
Nyla Ali Khan
Girls Reduced to Being Repositories of Communal and Religious Identities in Kashmir
Ted Rall
Stop Letting Trump Distract You From Your Wants and Needs
Steve Klinger
The Cautionary Tale of Donald J. Trump
Kevin Zeese - Margaret Flowers
Conflict Over the Future of the Planet
Cesar Chelala
Gideon Levy: A Voice of Sanity from Israel
Weekend Edition
April 20, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Paul Street
Ruling Class Operatives Say the Darndest Things: On Devils Known and Not
Conn Hallinan
The Great Game Comes to Syria
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Mother of War
Andrew Levine
“How Come?” Questions
Doug Noble
A Tale of Two Atrocities: Douma and Gaza
Kenneth Surin
The Blight of Ukania
Howard Lisnoff
How James Comey Became the Strange New Hero of the Liberals
William Blum
Anti-Empire Report: Unseen Persons
Lawrence Davidson
Missiles Over Damascus
Patrick Cockburn
The Plight of the Yazidi of Afrin
Pete Dolack
Fooled Again? Trump Trade Policy Elevates Corporate Power
Stan Cox
For Climate Mobilization, Look to 1960s Vietnam Before Turning to 1940s America
William Hawes
Global Weirding
Dan Glazebrook
World War is Still in the Cards
Nick Pemberton
In Defense of Cardi B: Beyond Bourgeois PC Culture
Ishmael Reed
Hollywood’s Last Days?
Peter Certo
There Was Nothing Humanitarian About Our Strikes on Syria
Dean Baker
China’s “Currency Devaluation Game”
Ann Garrison
Why Don’t We All Vote to Commit International Crimes?
LEJ Rachell
The Baddest Black Power Artist You Never Heard Of
Lawrence Ware
All Hell Broke Out in Oklahoma
Franklin Lamb
Tehran’s Syria: Lebanon Colonization Project is Collapsing
Donny Swanson
Janus v. AFSCME: What’s It All About?
Will Podmore
Brexit and the Windrush Britons
Brian Saady
Boehner’s Marijuana Lobbying is Symptomatic of Special-Interest Problem
Julian Vigo
Google’s Delisting and Censorship of Information
Patrick Walker
Political Dynamite: Poor People’s Campaign and the Movement for a People’s Party
Fred Gardner
Medical Board to MDs: Emphasize Dangers of Marijuana
Rob Seimetz
We Must Stand In Solidarity With Eric Reid
Missy Comley Beattie
Remembering Barbara Bush
Wim Laven
Teaching Peace in a Time of Hate
Thomas Knapp
Freedom is Winning in the Encryption Arms Race
Mir Alikhan
There Won’t be Peace in Afghanistan Until There’s Peace in Kashmir
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail