Hazardous to Your Health: How the Civil Justice System Holds Corporate Polluters Accountable
In 1989, the Exxon Valdez struck a reef off the Alaskan coast and spilled more than 10 million gallons of oil over 1,000 miles of remote coastline. Exxon’s immediate response to what would become one of the most devastating environmental disasters ever to occur was to embark on a campaign to avoid responsibility that would last decades.
Twenty years later, another tragic oil spill threatened long-term devastation on the environment. Encouragingly, BP appears poised to accept some accountability for its its own wrongdoing.
Corporations have consistently responded to the environmental disasters they have caused by passing the buck for as long as possible. As time passes they know initial outrage will dim, media scrutiny will move on, political administrations will change, and the regulators will go through the revolving door to join the industry they once watched.
Laws passed in the 1960s and 1970s were supposed to protect the environment, but lax enforcement left corporations with little incentive to comply. Ultimately, trial attorneys were the ones who sought justice for communities destroyed by corporate polluters. Without the civil justice system, many corporate polluters would never have been held accountable for the disaster they caused.
Source: American Association for Justice (click here for the full report)