Petroleum, Refineries, and the Future

What Can be Done?

It is clear that petroleum and all of its products play a huge role in society and communities. In the words of Huber, "refineries can be seen as particular expressions of the historically specific relations between petroleum and society" (70). Because refineries create the products we use and love, it is the role of consumers to step in when refineries commit acts of environmental injustice. You may ask, "how can I go up against a huge oil refining company and expect to win?" Alas, there are many ways in which citizens can get together and influence these huge corporations. One way which I propose is the concept of Corporate Social Responsibility.  

The Concept of Corporate Social Responsibility

Oil companies and refineries should be held accountable for environmental crimes. It is the role of consumers, governments, organizations, and the companies themselves to hold oil companies accountable for their actions. Professor of Law David B. Spence says that “Perhaps more so than in any other industry, people demand corporate social responsibility (CSR) from oil and gas companies” (Spence 60). Corporate social responsibility is one paradigm under which oil companies can be held responsible for violations of environmental law. CSR, as defined by Spence, refers to “the kinds of things companies do in their efforts to navigate these swirling currents of changing expectations, expectations that have never loomed larger in the daily lives of companies, including oil and gas companies” (61). One oil company that faced consequences under the principle of CSR was John D. Rockefeller’s Standard Oil, Spence states that “the U.S. Supreme Court broke up John D. Rockefeller's Standard Oil trust in 1911, concluding that it violated the antitrust laws, laws that were motivated in part by public outrage over the company's anti-competitive practices” (69). Donna J. Wood, Chair of Business Ethics at the University of Northern Iowa, summarizes the effectiveness of CSP as, “businesses that abuse the power society grants them will lose that power” (Wood 54). This idea can be utilized in order to hold oil refineries responsible for their actions.

Works Cited




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