Advertisement

Good Intentions, Poor Execution: Ethical Dilemmas of the Superfund Legislation

  • Ellen S. Weisbord
Part of the Research Issues in Real Estate book series (RIRE, volume 5)

Abstract

Since their adoption in the late 1970s, the various environmental regulations known collectively as the Superfund laws have given rise to a plethora of compliance problems for owners of commercial and industrial properties. Criticism leveled at the Superfund laws has been based upon the widely held view that existing remediation standards are both economically and logistically indefensible. Such criticism appears valid in light of the actual results of the legislation: exorbitant cleanup costs and minimal cleanup.

In addition to this much publicized imbalance between cost and result, existing environmental laws have spawned unethical and illegal behaviors which are designed to keep property owners away from the scrutiny of governmental oversight agencies. These behaviors can be described in brief as “hide the problem” (don’t remove the contamination), “hide the waste” (dump it illegally), and “hide the clean-up” (keep even valid clean-up efforts secret from the government).

This paper argues that the Superfund legislation has cast an inequitable burden upon small firms that do not have the magnitude of resources required to bear the cost of compliance, and that the root of the injustice is a standardized and centralized system of enforcement. The legal and unethical behaviors are a result of this failure of environmental justice. The development of a systematic approach to voluntary environmental compliance, specifically tailored to small commercial and industrial property owners, which would increase equity—and thus compliance—is proposed.

Keywords

Environmental Protection Agency Property Owner Stakeholder Theory Environmental Justice Superfund Site 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

References

  1. Beauchamp, I., and N.E. Bowie. (1993). “Ethical Theory and Business Practice.” In T. Beauchamp and N.E. Bowie (eds.), Ethical Theory and Business (pp. 1–48): Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.Google Scholar
  2. Biblow, C., C. Niemcyzk, C.A. Rich, and E. Weisbord. (1996). “Cleanup Cures for Risk-Based Environmental Sites: A Voluntary Environmental Compliance Program for the Nineties.” Proceedings from World Workplace ‘96, 1: 103–111.Google Scholar
  3. Boje, D., and R. Dennehy. (1993). Management in a Postmodern World. Dubuque, IA: Kendall-Hunt.Google Scholar
  4. Brown, H.S., R. Derr, O. Renn, and A.L. White. (1993). Corporate Environmentalism in a Global Economy: Societal Values in International Technology Transfer. Westport, CT: Quorum.Google Scholar
  5. Cushman, J.H. Jr. (1996a). “Many States Give Polluting Firms New Protection.” New York Times, April 6, sect. 1, pp. 5,16.Google Scholar
  6. Cushman, J.H. Jr. (1996b). “U.S. Seeking Options on Pollution Rules.” New York Times May 27, p. 11.Google Scholar
  7. Deutsch, Morton. (1985). Distributive Justice. New Haven: Yale University Press.Google Scholar
  8. Donaldson, T., and L.E. Preston. (1995). “The Stakeholder Theory of the Corporation: Concepts, Evidence, and Implications.” Academy of Management Review, 20: 65–91.Google Scholar
  9. Donaldson, T., and P.H. Werhane. (1993). “Introduction to Ethical Reasoning.” In Thomas Donaldson and Patricia Hogue Werhane (eds.), Ethical Issues in Business: A Philosophical Approach (pp. 5–17). Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.Google Scholar
  10. Dunlap, R.E., and S. Rik. (1991). “Trends: Environmental Problems and Protection.” Public Opinion Quarterly 55: 651–672.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Eckersley, R. (1992). Environmentalism and Political Theory. Albany: State University of New York Press.Google Scholar
  12. GAO Report. (1995). “Superfund: Legal Expenses for Cleanup-Related Activities of Major U.S. Corporations.” GAO/RCED-95–46 (March 13).Google Scholar
  13. Graves, T.J. (1993). “Clean Up Superfund’s Legal Problems.” Legal Backgrounder 8(39).Google Scholar
  14. Grumbly, T.P. (1995). “Lessons from Superfund.” Environment 37(2): 33.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Harris, R. (1995). “Liberty: Its Past, Present and Future.” Farmingdale Observer 35(23) (February 17).Google Scholar
  16. Head, R. (1995). “Environmental Equity Justice Centers.” In B. Bryant (ed.), Environmental Justice: Issues, Policies and Solutions pp. 57–66. Washington, DC: Island Press.Google Scholar
  17. Jennings, P.D., and P.A. Zandbergen. (1995). “Ecologically Sustainable Organizations: An Institutional Approach.” Academy of Management Review 20: 1015–1052.Google Scholar
  18. Kortge, C.S. (1995). “Taken to the Cleaners.” Newsweek (Oct. 23), p. 16.Google Scholar
  19. Lane, E. (1995). “Superfund Peril: New Danger Seen in Overhaul Bill.” Newsday, Nov. 5, sect. A, pp. 7, 53.Google Scholar
  20. Levy, D.L. (1997). “Environmental Management as Political Sustainability.” Organization and Environment 10: 126–147.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Maitland, I. (1995). “The Limits of Business Self-Regulation.” California Management Review 27(3): 132–147.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. McKee, K.C. (1995). “Testimony November 08, 1995 Kathryn McKee Legislative Representative National Federation of Independent Business; Before: Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure; Subject: Superfund Reform.” Capitol Hill Hearing Testimony, Federal Document Clearing House.Google Scholar
  23. Miller, M.A. (1995). The Third World in Global Environmental Politics. Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner.Google Scholar
  24. Mintzberg, H. (1979). The Structure of Organizations. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.Google Scholar
  25. Pearce, J.A., and R. Robinson. (1995). “Note on the Hazardous Waste Management Industry.” In J.A. Pearce and R. Robinson (eds.), An Industry Approach to Cases in Strategic Management (2nd ed.). Chicago: Irwin.Google Scholar
  26. Post, J., and B. Altman. (1994). “Managing the Environmental Change Process: Barriers and Opportunities.” Journal of Organizational Change Management 7: 64–81.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Purser, R.E., C. Park, and A. Montuori. (1995). “Limits to Anthropocentrism: Toward an Ecocentric Organization Paradigm?” Academy of Management Review 20: 1053–1089.Google Scholar
  28. Quinn, D.P., and T.M. Jones. (1995). “An Agent Morality View of Business Policy.” Academy of Management Review 20: 22–42.Google Scholar
  29. Reaven, S.J. (1997). Stony Brook Environmental Compliance Project for Business and Industry. Stony Brook: State University of New York at Stony Brook.Google Scholar
  30. Rosenbaum, W.A. (1989). “The Bureaucracy and Environmental Policy.” In J.P. Lester (ed.), Environmental Politics and Policy: Theories and Evidence. Durham: Duke University Press.Google Scholar
  31. Shrivastava, P. (1994). “Castrated Environment: Greening Organizational Studies.” Organization Studies 15(5): 705–726.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Shrivastava, P. (1995). “Ecocentric Management for a Risk Society.” Academy of Management Review 20(1): 118–137.Google Scholar
  33. Starik, M., and G.P. Rands. (1995). “Weaving an Integrated Web: Multilevel and Multisystem Perspectives of Ecologically Sustainable Organizations.” Academy of Management Review 20(4): 908–935.Google Scholar
  34. Taylor, J., and K. Kansas. (1993). “Environmentalists Vie for Right to Pollute.” Wall Street Journal, March 26, p. Cl, C14.Google Scholar
  35. U.S. Department of Justice. (1984). “Use of Risk-Based Decision-Making in IST Corrective Action Programs.” Bureau of Justice Statistics Bulletin, OSWER Directive 9610.17. Google Scholar
  36. “U.S. Seeking Options on Pollution Rules.” (1996). New York Times, May 27, p. 11.Google Scholar
  37. Wallis, V. (1997). “Lester Brown, the Worldwatch Institute, and the Dilemmas of Technocratic Revolution.” Organization and Environment 10: 109–125.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Wenz, Peter. (1988). Environmental Justice. Albany: State University of New York Press.Google Scholar
  39. World Commission on Environment and Development (WCED). (1987). Our Common Future. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 1999

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ellen S. Weisbord
    • 1
  1. 1.Pace UniversityUSA

Personalised recommendations