Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Shell On The Dock In The Hague: Victory For Environmentalism?

As the “famed” crude oil company Royal Dutch Shell being on the dock in a judicial venue normally reserved for war criminals, does this signify a victory for the global environmentalism movement?

By: Ringo Bones

Thanks to the support of high-profile environmentalists, like Friends of the earth’s Geert Ritsema, the “famed” crude oil company Royal Dutch Shell is finally on the dock in The Hague after 4 Nigerian famers lead by plaintiff Eric Dooh and scores of Nigerian fishermen sued Shell for compensation after the oil company’s crude oil wells and pipelines in the environmentally sensitive Niger Delta region started an oil spill due to lack of maintenance between the years 2004 to 2007 that ruined the primary livelihoods of the nearby locals. Given that both compensation seeking plaintiffs and environmentalists finally brought Shell to a court normally reserved for notorious war criminals for a mere “compensation case proceedings”, does this mean victory at last for victims of the negative environmental impact of crude oil extraction and for the environmentalists around the world fighting for their struggle?

According to a representative from Royal Dutch Shell, the oil spills in the ecologically sensitive Niger Delta region is largely due to local organized criminal gangs stealing crude oil from Shell owned pipelines to be sold off at a profit. Though Shell’s defense may be reasonably sound, the common person on the street who knows the basics of how multinational crude oil companies work only see their reasoning as nothing more than “environmental hooey” because if only Shell stop spending countless millions on their PR advertising on TV and other media outlets, the funds could be better spent in maintaining the safety of their crude oil extracting operations around the world. To add insult to injury, Shell’s PR representatives often use the appalling security conditions in the Niger Delta region both as an alibi and as an excuse for not being able to maintain their crude oil pipelines in that part of the world.

Even though Royal Dutch Shell might be currently the biggest multinational crude oil extraction company sued for operational negligence that caused an environmental catastrophe, other well-known crude oil extraction companies are yet to be brought to justice for their notoriety when it comes to their “corporate social responsibility”. BP has not yet fairly compensated people whose livelihoods they’ve ruined during the wake of the disastrous oil spill back in April 2010. And the environmental and social atrocities caused by former US President George W. Bush and former US Vice President Dick Cheney owned crude oil extraction companies seems to pale in comparison the atrocities committed by 1990s era Balkan region war criminals.

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