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Case Study-Environmental Ethics

Case Study-Environmental Ethics


Serious emergencies sometimes occur within an organization, and sometimes, these emergencies result from negligence or unavoidable disasters. In the BP Deepwater Horizon oil rig, the disaster resulted from negligence, as described by Gabbatt, McGreal, and Macalister (2010). The magnitude of the disaster stands out significantly because the explosion led to the death of 11 people, and almost four million barrels of crude oil were spilled into the Gulf of Mexico. People were not the only victims of this catastrophe because hundreds of sea turtles, marine mammals, and sea birds died three months later. The oil spill affected about 47,000 square miles of the total (Gulf area Gabbatt, McGreal & Macalister, 2010). After the incident, the company engaged in cleaning up the Gulf. Along with the clean-up, the company compensated the victims with $20 billion (Gabbatt, McGreal & Macalister, 2010). Since the disaster caused a significant loss to people and the environment, the U.S. Justice Department banned any new drilling projects in the Gulf of Mexico. Even after the Gulf of Mexico disaster, the Trump administration opened up the Atlantic, Pacific, and Arctic for oil and gas drilling.

The Concept Related To the Case

There are two concepts related to the case. The first concept is the concept of environmental pollution, which is seen in the impacts of the disaster on the environment (Gheraia, Saadaoui & Abdelli, 2019). The tragedy led to the pollution of the Gulf, which then resulted in the death and destruction of marine life. It is also evident that the company had to take responsibility for leaning the sea after the oil spill. The second concept is the Corporate Social Responsibility Concept (CSR) (Gheraia, Saadaoui & Abdelli, 2019). CSR deals with the responsibility bestowed on companies to ensure that they take care of the environment where they have set up their factories or farms. It also extends to the commitment that entities have to give back to the community. The third concept is the concept of the company’s role in preventing disasters because, in this case, the tragedy occurred as a result of the negligence of the company (Gheraia, Saadaoui & Abdelli, 2019). These concepts are related to the case because they involve the issues illuminated due to the incidences in the case study. One can see that the question of the relationship between the environment and companies emerges. In the same case, the question of CSR and a company’s behavior towards preventing emergencies arises.

Moral Standards Relevant To the Case

The moral concern arising from this case surrounds how companies relate to the environment. Even though several ethical theories can be used to explain this case, the most outstanding idea is the universalist or the objectivist moral theories. This theory holds that there are essential “objective moral principles and values” (Boss, 2020) that are universally true and applicable to everyone worldwide. In other words, even though there is a belief that cultural customs may be different, some ethics apply to all people without the hindrance of geographical or cultural boundaries. When this theory is applied to the case at hand, one can argue that morals connected to the environment are universal and should be universally binding because the environment does not belong to a single individual.

The world and all the natural resources belong to every living thing. This claim and moral theory can further be supported by the Social Contract Theory (Boss, 2020). This theory argues that morality is like a voluntary pact that people make with each other. Therefore, people are only obligated to those who have entered this contract. The theory further states that humans may not be directly bound to animals and non-human animals (Boss, 2020). However, since people are obligated to their fellow humans, they are compelled to the animals and non-human animals.

In other words, a person may have the right to kill a cat, but he cannot kill the cat because it is another person’s pet (Boss, 2020). Therefore, in this case, the theory explains that the oil spill and the explosion were unethical practices because the sea animals died and the Gulf was polluted. The sea animals and the Gulf are essential for other humans to survive. Therefore, the company is responsible for protecting the environment because of its obligation to humans. Overall, humans have the responsibility to care for the environment because the environment meets the needs of other animals and humans in general. Everyone is responsible for protecting the environment.


The environment belongs to every individual and animal in the world. It is a requirement that everyone takes care of it. However, even though this is the case, specific issues require evaluation. For instance, the BP Deepwater Horizon oil rig disaster is a case that presents how moral issues may be crucial. In this case, the company’s negligence resulted in an oil spill and an explosion that resulted in the loss of human lives and the death of marine animals. Ethics demands that every human being alive should care for the environment. They should be responsible for any damages they cause because the background is everyone’s property. Another idea gathered from this discussion is that morals and theories explain these morals that should be considered when discussing environmental issues. The leading theory is the Social Contract Theory.


Boss, J. A.,(2020). McGraw-Hill Higher Education 7th edition: Analyzing Moral Issues. p.452. Textbook available at

Gabbatt, A., McGreal, C. & Macalister, T. (2010). Deepwater Horizon: US Bans New Drilling in Gulf of Mexico. The Guardian. Retrieved from:

Gheraia, Z., Saadaoui, S.,  & Abdelli, H. A. (2019).  Business Ethics and Corporate Social Responsibility: Bridging the Concepts. Open Journal of Business and Management 7(4)

Week 7 Assignment – Case Study: Environmental Ethics
Read the following case study and respond to the question below.


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In April 2010, the BP Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded, killing 11 workers and spewing four million barrels of light crude oil into the Gulf of Mexico. It was the largest oil spill in U.S. history and ranked among the top 10 world’s worst human-caused environmental disasters. Approximately 47,000 square miles, or one-fifth of the total area of the Gulf, was affected, as well as beaches and coastal marshes. Before it was finally contained three months later, the spill killed hundreds of sea turtles, sea birds, and marine mammals, in addition to countless fish. BP worked with the U.S. Coast Guard and other government agencies to contain the damage. BP ended active clean-up operation in November 2011 and is now focusing on restoring areas damaged by the spill.

Case Study-Environmental Ethics

Case Study-Environmental Ethics

Effects of the spill on the ecosphere and animal life will not be known for years, although recovery has been faster than expected. Hundreds of people, including fishers, shrimpers, and workers in the tourism industry, were out of work as a result of the spill. BP set up a $20 billion fund to compensate victims of the spill. Disputes overcompensation are still ongoing (1).

The explosion causing the spill occurred on April 20, 2010. On April 30, the U.S. Justice Department banned new drilling in the Gulf of Mexico. U.S. President Barack Obama used the authority granted to the president by the 1953 Outer Continental Shelf Land Act, to withdraw all the Chukchi Sea and the majority of the Beaufort Sea in the Arctic from future oil and gas drilling. (2)

The Trump administration has opened up the Atlantic, Pacific, and Arctic U.S. coastal areas to oil and gas drilling. Environmentalists argue that it would be difficult or almost impossible to contain an oil spill in the Arctic because of the area’s remoteness, the ice cover, and the lack of daylight during the winter months.

Question: Should we be drilling for oil in the Arctic offshore?

1. Judith Boss. 2020. Analyzing Moral Issues. p. 452. McGraw-Hill Higher Education 7th edition textbook available at

2. The Guardian. 2010. Deepwater Horizon: US Bans New Drilling in Gulf of Mexico.

Use the Case Study Assignment Template to do the following:

Describe the relevant facts of the case.
Clarify concepts relevant to the case.
Apply a moral standard to the case.
Articulate a conclusion to the stated question.
Include at least two references, such as the textbook and other readings, to support your arguments.
This course requires the use of Strayer Writing Standards. For assistance and information, please refer to the Strayer Writing Standards link in the left-hand menu of your course. Check with your professor for any additional instructions.

The specific course learning outcome associated with this assignment is:

Practice the application of ethics to everyday life

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