I am curious to determine whether or not a pipeline from Alberta to the pacific coast is in the best interest of ethical reasoning. In building an ethical framework, I must balance what is needed though the company’s interest to expand (thus building the economy for the nation) and take into consideration corporate greed and detrimental effects to the environment. In order to meet the demands of an ever-changing economy, which is increasingly demanding companies become globalized to survive, it has been brought to my attention through newspaper articles that Enbridge wishes to strengthen its relations with the Asian markets in order to survive as a corporation. Enbridge is facing increasing pressure from other companies that could be first to make their move the Asian market. In developing an ethical framework, I will combine the demands of the company’s desire to grow with the negative effects of the pipeline in an effort to weigh the pros and cons of expansion to the Pacific Coast.
In building an ethical framework, it is important to consider what the greatest effect on the greatest number of people is. Utilizing utilitarianism will provide the framework in which to apply the company’s desires and thus determine if it is compatible for what is the greatest good for the greatest number of people. The benefits to the company and those who would find work if the project were given the green light, need to be balanced with the need to preserve the environment for the long-term survival of mankind.
In order to win out over the companies that are ready to take over, businesses like Enbridge need to reinvent themselves, with new ideas. This could include a new line of product, or it could include finding new customers. In order to stay ahead of the competition, Enbridge needs to expand to the B.C. coast. But the question is whether a company’s desire for growth and ethics can be used in combination in the case of oil drilling.
The environment should be a top concern to any oil company. And it is on the minds of everyone who is involved with this project, whether they are concerned that environmental policy will cut into potential profits, or if it is because they are actually sympathetic towards the potential devastating results of the pipeline. In order to access the Pacific Coast via the Northern Gateway Pipeline, Enbridge is required to build an 1,100-kilometre dual pipeline from Alberta to the coast. This would accommodate the plan to transport the bitumen for shipment to Asia, while also pumping condensate into Alberta. The project could make Enbridge the most profitable oil company in the world. Many shareholders and people who would be employed by the project would benefit from the construction of the pipeline, but the long term effects to society as a whole is too much of a cost to bear and it doesn’t justify the expansion.
While the environment plays an important role in weighing the pros and cons, I must also consider the 7,000 full-time employees at the company. Enbridge has a market cap of over $31 billion, and the top executives are making over a million per year. Last year, CEO Al Monaco pulled in close to $1.5 million. He would obviously like to increase the income at the company, and increase his pay, and this is perhaps a guiding factor in considering the project. He likely has become addicted to the money that this company is making. Year-over-year from 2010 to 2011, the company increased revenue by about $4.3 billion, or around 27 per cent. This tells me that the company is doing well, despite a corporate environment that calls for growth as a means of survival.
The pressures in the current economic environment require companies to be constantly looking at reinventing themselves. Enbridge has reached near its limit of providing oil to its current North American market. It is no longer an option – if the company wants to continue to increase profits – to remain only in this continent. While the profits at the company are huge, there is a desire to expand. The company also has close friends in the government who tout the project for the tax revenue that would result and the jobs that would be created.
A desire for expansion, while it might provide a framework for companies to stay prosperous into the future, doesn’t take into consideration moral duty. Furthermore, in modern times, a business plan that doesn’t consider the impact on the environment won’t gain the approval of the public anyway. In the oil business, this isn’t much of a concern, because the company isn’t selling directly to individuals but to other companies. And that is a scary proposition for the world, because if people don’t stop buying from these companies that are blindly following corporate greed, the only thing that will be destroyed is the environment. I have determined that after this analysis, the cons of building the Northern Gateway Pipeline outweigh the benefits of jobs growth, for the simple fact that the long-term survival of mankind depends on being responsible toward the environment.
Meissner, D. (2012, Oct. 23). Norther Gateway opponents gather 3,500 strong at B.C.
legislature. The Canadian Press.
“Zero-risk oil pipeline not possible, Enbridge says.” (2012, Oct. 13). The Canadian Press.