Oklahoma, Opioids, and Oil

In Oklahoma’s case against Johnson & Johnson in relation to the opioid crisis, Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter used an argument that could also be applied to Oklahoma’s oil and gas companies and how they are deceiving us about the long term and lethal effects of their production processes and their product for Oklahomans and all of human civilization.

Like the pharmaceutical companies, the oil and gas companies have deceived us for self profit that has led to grave societal harm. They have deceived us about wastewater induced earthquakes, supported merchants of doubt to lie to us about the reality of our climate crisis, and attempted to block any meaningful regulations on the environmental impact of their industry.

The oil and gas companies have even sought to weaken academic freedom at our colleges and universities by buying university and college presidents and in more than one case giving them millions of dollars in direct payments to serve as paid directors on their boards. In other cases, oil and gas companies influence Boards of Regents and Boards of Trustees to simply place oil and gas company executives as the presidents of the universities. The oil and gas companies attempted to squash dissent by academics who were exposing and telling the truth about wastewater induced earthquakes and who openly resist the lies being told by the fossil fuel industry about climate change.

Oklahoma Attorney General Hunter described Johnson & Johnson’s conduct in misleading the public about the addictive nature of opioids as “devious and diabolical.” Attorney General Hunter, congratulations on your work to hold the pharmaceutical industry accountable for its role in the opioid crisis in Oklahoma. Congratulations on the verdict that Johnson & Johnson is to pay $572 million for the damage it has done to the people of Oklahoma. When will you be taking Devon Energy, Chesapeake Energy, Continental Resources, and others to court to hold them accountable for their devious and diabolical role in our climate crisis and for the millions of dollars of damages from earthquakes that their industry unleashed on our state?

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About Mark Y. A. Davies

Mark Davies is the Wimberly Professor of Social and Ecological Ethics and Director of the World House Institute for Social and Ecological Responsibility at Oklahoma City University. He is the Executive Director of the Leadership, Education, and Development (LEaD) Hub North America of the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry of the United Methodist Church and an Oklahoma Humanities State Scholar. Mark has published in the areas of Boston personalism, process philosophy and ethics, and ecological ethics. Dr. Davies serves on the United Methodist University Senate, which is “an elected body of professionals in higher education created by the General Conference to determine which schools, colleges, universities, and theological schools meet the criteria for listing as institutions affiliated with The United Methodist Church.” He and his wife Kristin live in Edmond, OK in the United States, and they have two daughters. The views expressed by the author in this blog do not necessarily represent the views of Oklahoma City University or the United Methodist Church.
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