Corporations cut corners

We await the Final Environmental Impact Statement for the oil terminal projects. The purpose of the Draft EIS process was to discover potential hazards and ways to mitigate those hazards with government regulation. Two examples, one internationally known, the other local, should suffice to show the disregard with which corporations treat regulations.

The BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010 is illustrative not only of what goes wrong when regulations are ignored, but how the largest and richest corporations avoid responsibility:

On Sept. 4, 2014, U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier ruled BP was guilty of gross negligence and willful misconduct. Barbier ruled that BP had acted with “conscious disregard of known risks” and rejected BP’s assertion that other parties were equally responsible for the oil spill. He described BP’s actions as “reckless” and determined that several crucial BP decisions were “primarily driven by a desire to save time and money, rather than ensuring that the well was secure.”

BP issued a statement strongly disagreeing with the finding, and saying the court’s decision would be appealed, according to a Reuters news report.

Right here in Grays Harbor we had an example of a well regarded company that provided jobs and built something very important for the state’s infrastructure. Yet that company still could not resist the temptation to cut corners.

Kiewit-General Joint Venture, the state-hired contractor commissioned to build the SR 520 pontoon construction facility in Aberdeen was fined $90,000 by the Department of Ecology for improperly decommissioning 15 groundwater monitoring wells at the site, according to Daily World story.

Corporations large and small need to maximize profits for their shareholders. They do this by taking short cuts in labor and ignoring regulations. Past behavior predicts future behavior. Neither the Environmental Protective Agency, the Washington State Department of Ecology, nor the City of Hoquiam Municipal Code has the power to reverse corporate habits. The risk of an oil spill in Grays Harbor is too great. We cannot afford the loss of habitat. We cannot afford the loss of jobs dependent on that habitat. We cannot afford the escape from responsibility the corporations will take. We cannot afford years of litigation. We cannot afford to abandon the soul of Grays Harbor for money lust. For this most human and non-technical reason, the permits for all oil terminal projects proposed for Hoquiam must be denied.

Robin Moore

Hoquiam