ON Brazilian Energy Policy

After Brazil’s worst oil spill in a long time, with thousands of barrels of crude spilled into the ocean, US company Chevron was fined 28m of dollars. According to the law this is the highest amount Brazilian government agencies can fine per infraction. Therefore, unless other offences are found, the punishment for what amounts to be a critical error, which could have triggered far more serious consequences, will be equal to just 12 hours of Chevron benefits.

ON-green-policy. This is clearly not the kind of incentive suitable to make Chevron acting more carefully next time, when it has to choose between more safety and more profits! On the contrary, the fine is just another way of telling oil companies that careful, responsible behaviour is actually not desired in Brazil and that they should take any risks and drill in any depths in order to get as much oil out of the ground as possible irrespective of environmental cost. The laws are to blame. While suiting the interests of big oil, they obviously fail to take into account the interest of Brazilian society such as preserving an intact nature and factor in ecological costs. The only language the industry understands is stock market value performance. Spills of any size needs to be punished by fines, proportional to the size of the company, seriously cutting benefits and therefore share prices. Only then would investors urge companies to actually manage their ecological risk properly. And only then would the push into more remote and ecologically sensitive areas or into deeper oceans have an appropriate price tag – proportional to steeply increasing risks that is. In a democracy, elected politicians are responsible for changing laws and voters are responsible for electing politicians. Therefore, Brazilians and voters in general should vote politicians into office, which prioritise the long-term interest of the nation over the short term interests of the oil industry.

Source: TreeHugger