Saturday, February 28, 2015

Environment vs the Economy. Who Wins?

    A case that has been in the news recently has been that between ExxonMobil and the State of New Jersey. This, actually, has been a decade long legal battle that is finally being resolved, but not on the terms originally proposed. The case concerns two refinery sites that were once run by Exxon, Bayonne ( 1879-1972) and Bayway (1909-1972), which had contaminated more than 1,500 acres of public marshes, meadows and wetlands in the cities of Bayonne and Linden, NJ. 
    These oil refinery sites have had a history of spills and leakages of industrial wastes into this land, which, consequentially, has destroyed and polluted it. The pollutants include chromium, pesticides, arsenic, and other extremely harmful substances, and it was estimated 28 years ago that at one of these sites alone, at least 7 million gallons of oil were contained in the groundwater and soil in the area, and it was actually suggested by Exxon that the Platty Kill Canal in Bayonne be permanently closed and sealed off. It has been estimated that it would take up to a grand total of $8.9 billion to clean up all the contamination and restore enough forestland and wetland to make up for the years and years of harm caused at these two sites. However, the state has settled the case for about $250 million, which is a mere fraction of the expenses needed and rightfully owed to the public, so it appears that Governor Chris Christie is basically letting the company, with which he has had a history of mutual support in other matters,off easy. However, official documents from the case have not been released, so hopefully there will be other ways as part of the deal that the company will make up for the damages.
       It is a well known fact that many major corporations and companies do major harm to the environment, and, more often than not, get away with it. Protecting the environment isn't in the concerns of these companies, because by doing so, they'd be limiting their own activities. Also, economic growth is prioritized over environmental protection by nations as a whole, and the effects of today's activities on future generations, unfortunately, often aren't taken much into consideration. This ongoing battle between the economy and the environment represents a major hindrance that is crucial to overcome  in one way or another in order to better and maintain environmental health, and unfortunately, much can't be done about it when companies like Exxon are let "off the hook". 

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