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.

Weekend Edition
December 14, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Andrew Levine
A Tale of Two Cities
Bruce E. Levine
The Ketamine Chorus: NYT Trumpets New Anti-Suicide Drug
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Fathers and Sons, Bushes and Bin Ladens
Kathy Deacon
Coffee, Social Stratification and the Retail Sector in a Small Maritime Village
Nick Pemberton
Praise For America’s Second Leading Intellectual
Patrick Cockburn
The Yemeni Dead: Six Times Higher Than Previously Reported
Nick Alexandrov
George H. W. Bush: Another Eulogy
Brian Cloughley
Principles and Morality Versus Cash and Profit? No Contest
Michael Duggin
Climate Change and the Limits of Reason
Victor Grossman
Sighs of Relief in Germany
Ron Jacobs
A Propagandist of Privatization
Robert Fantina
What Does Beto Have Against the Palestinians?
Richard Falk – Daniel Falcone
Sartre, Said, Chomsky and the Meaning of the Public Intellectual
Robert Fisk
The Parasitic Relationship Between Power and the American Media
Stephen Cooper
When Will Journalism Grapple With the Ethics of Interviewing Mentally Ill Arrestees?
Jill Richardson
A War on Science, Morals and Law
Ron Jacobs
A Propagandist of Privatization
Evaggelos Vallianatos
It’s Not Easy Being Greek
Nomi Prins 
The Inequality Gap on a Planet Growing More Extreme
John W. Whitehead
Know Your Rights or You Will Lose Them
David Swanson
The Abolition of War Requires New Thoughts, Words, and Actions
J.P. Linstroth
Primates Are Us
Bill Willers
The War Against Cash
Jonah Raskin
Doris Lessing: What’s There to Celebrate?
Ralph Nader
Are the New Congressional Progressives Real? Use These Yardsticks to Find Out
Binoy Kampmark
William Blum: Anti-Imperial Advocate
Medea Benjamin – Alice Slater
Green New Deal Advocates Should Address Militarism
John Feffer
Review: Season 2 of Trump Presidency
Frank Clemente
The GOP Tax Bill is Creating Jobs…But Not in the United States
Rich Whitney
General Motors’ Factories Should Not Be Closed. They Should Be Turned Over to the Workers
Christopher Brauchli
Deported for Christmas
Kerri Kennedy
This Holiday Season, I’m Standing With Migrants
Mel Gurtov
Weaponizing Humanitarian Aid
Thomas Knapp
Lame Duck Shutdown Theater Time: Pride Goeth Before a Wall?
George Wuerthner
The Thrill Bike Threat to the Elkhorn Mountains
Nyla Ali Khan
A Woman’s Selfhood and Her Ability to Act in the Public Domain: Resilience of Nadia Murad
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
On the Killing of an Ash Tree
Graham Peebles
Britain’s Homeless Crisis
Louis Proyect
America: a Breeding Ground for Maladjustment
Steve Carlson
A Hell of a Time
Dan Corjescu
America and The Last Ship
Jeffrey St. Clair
Booked Up: the 25 Best Books of 2018
December 13, 2018
John Davis
What World Do We Seek?
Subhankar Banerjee
Biological Annihilation: a Planet in Loss Mode
Lawrence Davidson
What the Attack on Marc Lamont Hill Tells Us
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail