Environment: Costs of an Oil Spill

Even though three years have passed since crude oil began gushing from a ruptured well under the Santa Barbara Channel, no one yet knows the exact costs of the disaster. As so often happens with social problems in the U.S., the courts have to put a price tag on values that are hard to measure. The latest decision has come from a Santa Barbara court, where Judge Morton L. Barker ruled that the oil companies responsible for the oil spill—Union Oil, Mobil, Texaco and Gulf—should each pay $500 in criminal penalties.

"Outrageous!" snapped District...

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