Suddenly the business case for being an ethical, non-polluting business seems all the stronger

BP Oil Spill

Photo credit NASA Goddard Photo and Video

Is the massive environment, health and safety (EHS) risks, which fossil fuel companies represent, starting to hurt their businesses?

Reading this morning about the Deepwater Horizon explosion and the continuing oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico I note that BP’s market value has fallen from ?122bn last week to ?102.5bn today - a loss of almost ?20bn in a week (or just over 16% of its value).

What has to be really worrying for BP investors is that

Things must be pretty grim at present in BP’s plush London HQ but it is not like BP have an exceptionally poor record by fossil fuel producers standards. For example:

And this EHS risk is not limited to oil and gas companies. On the contrary:

Massey Energy, the owner of the Upper Big Branch coal mine which exploded four weeks ago, killing 29 miners, has a terrible record of environmental and health and safety abuses. In fact, so bad are they that the FBI announced recently that they would be investigating Massey for the possible bribery of federal officials overseeing mining industry regulation and for potential criminal negligence.

Massey’s main competitors in the US are little better –

With the rapidly increasing number of environmental lawsuits taking place companies like the above are going to be spending more and more of their time in the courts with the consequent losses in time, productivity and reputation which that entails.

When you couple that with the growing interest in environmental issues being taken by the SEC, the EPA and investors and suddenly the business case for being an ethical, non-polluting business seems all the stronger.

After all, as many people noted on Twitter in the last few days, spills of air from wind farms or sun from solar plants are not going to have the devastating environmental consequences we have witnessed in the last decades as a result of our addiction to fossil fuels.

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