Investors quickly dumped stocks across the fossil energy industry within minutes of Attorney General Eric Holder’s announcement that there could be criminal charges filed against BP, holding it accountable for the Gulf catastrophe. BP and Halliburton, already declining since the Gulf accident, lost almost 15 percent on the news, and Anadarko Petroleum, a part owner of the exploded oil rig, tumbled nearly 20 percent, as the stock market factored in that oil companies might have to pay out huge amounts in criminal fines for pollution.
Other fossil energy companies that were part of the dive after the announcement by Holder included Massey – the other fossil energy company now facing likely criminal prosecution for its negligence in it’s recent mining disaster – which dropped another 10% down to $30.17.
Judging from this sudden sector-wide drop, investors don’t apparently already factor in that the fossil energy business is dangerous and dirty, and that polluters might be held criminally liable, which suggests just why the fossil energy industry puts so much money into climate science disinformation, and the purchase of Senators to prevent carbon legislation.
This graph is a picture of the true value of fossil energy in a future carbon-constrained world.
If catastrophic pollution of the commons is a crime that has to be paid for, dirty energy is apparently less attractive to investors.
Under the Senate’s climate bill, which is currently being scored by the CBO with the findings due out later this month; at which time it can be moved to the floor for a vote, polluters will be for the first time responsible for climate-changing greenhouse gas pollution that has economic consequences even more catastrophic and far-reaching than killing a $2.5 billion fishing industry in one state and tourism industries in five more.
It is long overdue to factor into the stock valuations of companies, that there are potentially catastrophic impacts of climate change: that polluters should be held accountable for massive destruction. That’s just good governance. But apparently it is news to the stock market.
Image: New York TimesSource: New York Times
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