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Ethical Decison Making Concerning Environmental Issues

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The solution discusses decision making in business from an ethical standpoint. Solutions to a specific case outline the various decisions that can be made, based on various theories related to ethics. The solution also discusses environmental law and the duties of the EPA.

In the case presented, George is the plant manager of Ardnak Plastics Inc, in Hondo, TX. His plant has been fined yet again for emissions from manufacturing processes reaching higher than acceptable levels. Bill, an executive, tells George he must find a way to reduce emissions, though the company will not purchase scrubbers to help reduce the levels of carbon in the smokestacks. A manager from another plant recommends that George run more production operations at night, as the EPA does not visit then and the plant will be able to pass future inspections. Bill has told George that if he does not find a solution, the plant will be moved 15 miles south to Mexico. Bill's wife reminds him that much of Hondo's economy relies on the jobs created by Ardnak and that many of her family members are employed there. The various ethical theories are used to describe the different decisions George can make.

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The stakeholders in this case are the employees of the Ardnak Plastics Inc, the
community of Hondo, families of the employees, the stockholders, residents of the community in
Mexico, the EPA, George, Bill and other executives of Ardnak. Residents of Hondo have an
interest in remaining healthy, with lower levels of pollutants. They also have an economic
interest, which may be seriously jeopardized if the plant moves. Employees who work at Hondo
contribute greatly to the local economy. Residents in Mexico have an interest, in terms of the
effects on their health of the pollutants. They also have an interest in economic gains that might
be made by having greater numbers employed in the plant, if it should move. Shareholders have
an interest in receiving a good return on their investment, so anything that jeopardizes this, like
shutting down the plant or continued fines is their interest.
The environmental laws do apply, in that the level of pollutants being emitted is over the
limit set by the EPA, which is mandated by the Federal Government. Even if the plant runs at
night when the EPA is not there, a legal requirement is still in place. "Virtually every possible
environmental problem or situation is addressed in some manner by both federal and state
statutes and regulations"(wildlaw.org, nd). Air is covered by the Clean Air Act, just as water is
covered by the Clean Water Act. The EPA, as the environmental regulatory agency designated
by the Federal Government, is government is required ...

Solution Summary

The ethics of decision making can be very challenging, particularly when dealing with environmental laws, heavy fines and other high stakes. This solution looks at the decision making process from different ethical theory perspectives and discusses how each might be applied in the decision making process.