Big Oil and Bus Ethics

Big Oil in the Arctic
It can be argued (convincingly) that human’s usage of fossil fuels is responsible for a large part of the world’s pollution problems. The area that I will discuss is the interaction that the big oil companies have had with the environment surrounding their businesses in Alaska. I will not tackle the issue of whether it is right or wrong to extract or use fossil fuels. Instead, I will ignore the larger issue and concentrate on specific issues concerning the Arctic Slope activities of oil companies in Alaska.
Because the North Slope oil fields are on American soil, the regulation of the industrial activities is far more stringent than other areas in the world. If we compared the North Slope oil business with places such as the Alang ship-wrecking yards in India, we would be talking about a whole different level of environmental pollution, work safety, and the rights of native peoples. However, the same ethical principles can still be applied to the business activities of the big oil companies that operate on Alaska’s North Slope.
First, the Arctic Slope Natives have the right to property, right to unspoiled environment, and negative right to be free from all the influences that change their cultural practices. All the natives of the North Slope (Inupiat Eskimos) have experienced an extremely large increase in their material wealth because of the taxes, royalties, and new business opportunities that they receive as a result of the oil companies presence in the Arctic. Because of this, the majority of the natives in the area welcome the presence of these companies. They still treasure the natural environment around them, but they don’t see any immediate harm being inflicted on the land in which they have lived for hundreds of years. With the large influx of wealth into their lives, the Inupiat people might be blinded by their material comfort and might not see the larger picture of the damage that is being done to their land and to their culture.
Second, the wildlife of the Arctic have had its right of habitat infringed upon. However, we have not seemed to be adversely affected by the presence of oil companies. The number of animals has cycled up and down, but the entire numbers of most species have increased since exploration and drilling began.
Third, the citizens of the state of Alaska are being coerced into voicing a favorable opinion of oil companies because their jobs depend on the presence of these companies. The majority of the citizens are in favor of oil companies and want them to stay in Alaska. The reason for this is that the economy of the state depends greatly on the oil industry. When the industry does well, the citizens of the state feel the direct results. It’s easy to see why most Alaskans are in favor of oil development, because oil is what pays their bills.
Finally, the businesses in the Arctic oil industry feel that they are being completely ethical in their business dealings. I concentrated on the BP Amoco company because it is by far the largest oil company in the Arctic and therefore sets the standard for the smaller companies that rely on it for business. BP has complied with all the environmental regulations and has funded many independent and state studies concerning the affect that the oil industry has had on the environment. BP has also funded many activities that benefit the people of the Arctic and entire the state, such as roads and education.

Native People of the Arctic
The Eskimos of the North Slope Borough have a right to property. Governments bought and sold the state of Alaska and ignored the people that had lived there for hundreds of years and who were the true owners of the land. When oil was discovered on their land, the Natives of the North Slope weren’t recognized by the oil companies as the true owners of the rich land.
The North Slope Borough is approximately the size of Minnesota. It covers almost 90,000 square miles from the Brooks Range of mountains to the south, to the Beaufort Sea to the north. It stretches from the Chukchi Sea on their western coast to the Canadian border on their eastern boundary.
Contained within this area are