“Big Problems in Little Hondo”
Ethics and the Legal Environment LS312-02
November 21, 2014
In a little town in Texas there is a big problem. A company in Hondo manufactures plastic parts for oil refineries. Ardnak employs mostly locals so you can consider them being a close nit kind of company. George, who is the manager of the plant, has brought an issue up to his boss, Bill. The EPA is fining the company Ardnak Industries for violating emissions regulations of pumping toxins through the smokestacks into the environment. Bill, George’s boss was questioning why the other Ardnak plants were passing emissions and the plant in Hondo wasn’t? George did some investigation, and found out that the other plants scheduled out of compliance practices at night. So when the EPA came and tested in the morning, they were in compliance. Now months have passed and the issue is still there. Bill gave George an alternative of moving the plant to Mexico which is 15 miles south of their current location, has cheaper labor, and less restriction for the plant. Ethically, if the plant would move out of TX then what about the hundreds of employees who will be out of a job? I am sure George does not want that on his shoulders that his decision destroyed the community’s infrastructure. The stakeholders, which are any group who is influenced by the business, are the employees (Guy, 1990), the suppliers, George and his family, the people of Hondo, and the EPA. Any decision George makes will affect any one of the stakeholders. If he chooses to move the plant, people in this small community lose their livelihood. If he chooses to seek employment somewhere else, then his family has to relocate, and there is no guarantee that he will find work. If he chooses to operate the plant at night, the environment is still effected in a negative way. If he chooses to fix the problem and install scrubbers, in turn it will cost the company and cut into profit margins but it will keep jobs in America. One of the environmental laws does apply to this situation. The Clean Air Act of 1970 which establishes air quality standards (Ferrell, 2011). Since the plant is pumping toxins into the air, whether it is daytime or night, the air quality is being polluted. The best way in my opinion to eliminate the pollutants would be to install the scrubbers, but with no money available what to do? From a utilitarian perspective the decision of not moving the company and just “fixing” the problem can provide the greatest benefit for the greatest numbers, which are the employees. If George has to cut corners and do what the other Ardnak plants are doing, which is letting the emissions out at night, then the boss is happy because it is not cutting into the profits of the company and the employees still have a job. Ethically it is not great for the environment.
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