.. al erosion, and if they blame oil companies then they don’t show it. Regardless of the Natives’ opinions, their rights are still being violated. The workers at the Alang ship-wrecking yards were happy for the work they had and the meager wages they were being paid, but a slew of their rights were being violated. A group of people, such as the Arctic slope natives can be in favor of activities and still have their rights (unspoiled environment) violated.
Wildlife The right of habitat for the wildlife in the Arctic has been infringed upon to a degree by the oil companies. The problem with this argument is that the oil companies can offer proof that the wildlife in the area hasn’t really suffered by the loss of parts of its habitat. The Central Arctic Herd (caribou), which uses the area around Prudhoe Bay, has tripled in population since oil development started in the early 1970s. There are four major caribou herds in northern Alaska. Besides the Porcupine and Central Arctic herds, there is the Western Arctic Herd, which is more than twice the size of the Porcupine Herd, and the smaller Teshekpuk Lake herd. Populations of these herds rise and fall by natural cycles.
Three decades of oil and gas activity in the central North Slope has had no apparent negative impacts. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) states, “The addition of new exploration, development, and production activities will increase human activity and the likelihood of polar bear sightings. We do not believe that the overall activity level will have a measurable impact on polar bears during the 3-year period (03/30/00 to 03/30/03) covered by these regulations.” Again, though there hasn’t been a lot of evidence concerning the negative impacts of industrial activity, but the activity can’t possibly be helpful to the wildlife of the Arctic. The Citizens of Alaska The citizens of Alaska are being coerced, in a way, by big oil companies to support the destruction of the environment on the Arctic Slope. BP/Amoco has taken care of the citizens of Alaska the same way it has taken care of the native peoples in the Arctic: with money. The oil industry is what keeps many Alaskans employed. Every Alaskan knows that oil is crucial to the economy of the state, whether they like it or not, and they aren’t about to give up the money from this industry.
Alaskans demonstrated their support for the oil industry when the state’s delegation to last summer’s Democratic National Convention threatened to prevent a unanimous nomination unless Mr. Gore at least listened to their concerns about his opposition to oil production in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Even though the state normally votes heavily Republican in national elections (all three congressmen are Republican), Democrat Tony Knowles was swept into a second consecutive term as governor on the strength of his pro-development, pro-business first-term record. In this case, the voters demonstrated that party affiliation is less important than a candidate’s support for Alaskan economic development. The residents of Alaska generally feel that the oil companies are not infringing on any rights of the average citizens of Alaska. These people can live without the oil companies, although probably not comfortably, and definitely not in Alaska.
So they are generally happy to see the oil companies making money because that means the citizens are also making money. The companies have worked with Alaskans to get a favorable reputation in the state. They have funded a majority of the state government, which in turn provides roads, education, and protection. Alaskans feel that if they listen to their conscience and get rid of these companies, then they will lose their job and Alaska won’t have a way to support all the programs that the companies provided. The Business View I will take the side of the oil companies, specifically BP Amoco (since it is the largest oil company in Alaska) and express with my business background why they (the companies) think they are doing ethical business. Several studies mentioned throughout this paper have shown that the impact of development in the Arctic, specifically Prudhoe Bay, has not been shown to have an adverse effect on the wildlife, the people, or the environment. Early design and permit requirements of the North Slope facilities included such precautions as providing caribou crossing ramps over pipelines, avoiding sensitive habitats during construction of gravel roads and pads, and long-term monitoring of caribou, birds and other Arctic wildlife species.
Exploration activities take place during the winter and use temporary roads made of ice, instead of permanent gravel roads, in order to avoid damage to the tundra ecosystems. Ice access roads are also laid alongside pipelines during their construction and maintenance. If travel over the tundra is unavoidable during the summer, BP uses special vehicles, referred to as ‘rolligon’ vehicles, which exert minimal pressure on vegetation. Pipelines are elevated on vertical supports to allow caribou herds to roam unhindered through the oil fields. Improved drilling technology has further reduced the need to build on the tundra of the North Slope. Directional drilling allows wells to be spaced more tightly on gravel well pads, and reinjecting drilling muds and cuttings materials into depleted oil reservoirs eliminates well pad reserve pits.
This, and the more vertical design of building facilities, have reduced the surface space occupied by gravel by up to 70 per cent on the North Slope. BP continues to develop other environment-protecting innovations such as the multi-year ice pad used in 1994 for exploratory drilling at the Yukon Gold site. BP also funds continuous wildlife and vegetation monitoring by independent survey organizations. The population size, behavior patterns, body condition, distribution and other factors affecting many species are studied every year. Caribou, Arctic foxes, and polar and grizzly bears are monitored, as are the migration patterns and numbers of offshore fish species.
Snow geese, swans and brant are among the many bird species assessed. These studies indicate that the plants and animals of North Slope ecosystems have continued to thrive since production began. BP says that environmental protection and employee protection are the two main corporate priorities. This is reflected in the environmental training and updates required for all employees. Strict no-spill policies are enforced for contractors as well as BP employees, and all spills must be reported immediately. Environmental response teams participate in weekly spill drills and every year a major Mutual Aid Drill is conducted by BP, and Alyeska, the company responsible for transporting the oil.
BP believes that it can manage environmental liability effectively and reduce costs, by following a long-term strategy that focuses on minimizing risk, managing transaction costs and increasing credibility. The problem is that BP’s environmental protection priority does not include the pollution that all of its industrial activity is causing. BP’s believes its good reputation is indicated by cooperative permitting processes and support from the Inupiat government agency. It has also been recognized by several international and national awards. These include the International Stratospheric Ozone Protection Award, presented in 1992 by the US Environmental Protection Agency, and the US Department of Interior Certificate of Appreciation, presented to the Anchorage and North Slope Environmental Departments for outstanding voluntary contributions to the nation.
Conclusion The oil companies of the Arctic North Slope have infringed on the right to property, the right to an unspoiled environment, and the right not to have interference in a very traditional culture of the Arctic North Slope Natives. The right to habitat of the wildlife in the Arctic North Slope is also being violated by the big oil companies. The citizens of Alaska are being coerced into fighting for the oil companies because their livelihood depends on it. The oil companies, especially BP Amoco, can seem like they are an ethical because of all the good things that come from the oil money, and because of how much they contribute to the community. They can give evidence to back up the fact that apparently their production in the Arctic has not had a negative impact on the environment. From the philosophical side, I think big oil has violated the rights of various groups.
From the business side, I think it would be hard to argue that oil companies in the Arctic could be doing anything better than what they are currently doing, apart from finding a different industry. From the perspective of an Alaskan Native, I think the companies need to be restrained so that they try even harder to become safer to the environment around them. They would trash the whole Arctic if nobody could do anything to stop them making a profit. But most of my friends, my family, and my native corporation depend on oil in various ways, and that may make us wish for (guiltily) big oil to keep prospering. Bibliography ENDNOES Watson, Cassandra. “Alaska’s Native Village Corporations.” Alaska Business Monthly September 2000, v.16, 9, 63.
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