Can both sides be right? Hardly, and when the initiative is analyzed with a critical eye, one sees that it looks like the initiative is a tactic for large corporations to appear to be following the letter of the law, but saving money by making Clean Air Act and EPA required equipment to reduce certain emissions by delaying capital expenditures and pushing out previous goals, thus saving millions if not billions of technological investment dollars. Likely these companies lobbied the Bush Administration, citing the need to reinvest in their businesses to become more competitive and thus, unable to divert funds into pollution control.
From the simplest ethnical standard, for instance utilitarianism, the initiative on its own might be ethical if not for the fact that it significantly alters previous legislation, and lessens the impact of EPS regulations on big-business. Certainly, stakeholders in those offending companies would benefit; stockholders, employees, management; but these people also breathe the air, live in the environment, and are part of the ecosystem. Reduction of standards that allow tons of pollutants into the environment longer than previously legislated do not benefit the needs of the many, nor, in the long run, do they benefit the overall hierarchy of the needs of the few with the exception of short-term financial gain. Thus, in view of the timing of the legislation, it can only be construed as unethical and immoral for the greater good of humanity, regardless of how it is dressed and presented to be palpable to the public.
Finally, that very “marketing” of the initiative is unethical as well; it touts saving lives and the environment, when in truth, it allows more people to become ill and more damage to the environment to occur.
President Announces Clear Skies and Global Climate Change Initiatives. (2002, February 14). Retrieved Nocember 2010, from the White House: http://georgewbush-whitehouse.archives.gov/news/releases/2002/02/20020214-5.html
Utilitarianism Resources. (2007, March). Retrieved November 2010, from Utilitarianism.com: http://www.utilitarianism.com/
Adams, J. (2003, Winter). Illogical Extremes. Retrieved November 2010, from NRDC-on Earth: http://www.nrdc.org/onearth/04win/view.asp
Bluhm and Heineman. (2006). Ethics and Public Policy. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson/Prentice Hall.
See, for example, discussions on the contemporary issues surrounding utilitarianism in: Utilitarianism Resources, 2007)..