Dr. Alfred de Grazia
Princeton, NJ 08542
September ___, 1985
For signature and transmission to the Majority and Minority Speaker of the House of Representatives and the Leaders of the House and Senate:
Several of us, who have studied closely the Bhopal gas disaster and the West Virginia gasing incident involving the Union Carbide Corporation, have been searching for means of compiling and analyzing the record on such cases and proposing legislation and rules for handling them to avoid their multiplication in the years to come.
We have concluded that the Congress of the United States should appoint a Special Committee to perform these tasks, and are addressing you to recommend an initiative of this kind and to offer our support and counsel.
It appears that such accidents have features that extend beyond the jurisdiction of the regular committees of the congress. Thus:
Commerce : Are these ever-threatening disasters a powerful new argument for the Federal incorporation of all companies engaging in domestic and world commerce and industry? Should at least all corporations engaged in world business be chartered Federally? Should in any case a special Federal legislative (and administrative) regulatory code be adopted, containing provisions reporting licencings, working conditions and safety practices? What measures need be adopted to prevent governments from exploiting illegally and obstructing operationally multi-nationals within their boundaries, forcing ethical, safety, and procedural violations?
Securities : Should the Federal securities laws be amended to require the disclosure to the SEC of ultra hazardous processes by reporting companies. Are there material facts that corporate shareholders are entitled to know about the corporation in which they have invested?
Environment : What are the total cumulative and progressive effects of hazardous and noxious industrial operations in the U.S.A. and world environment. Is an overall, legislated set of constraints and responsibilities to be imposed upon the environmentally-affecting operations of companies?
Foreign Relations : What effects do environmental and human disasters involving American companies have upon the success or failure of American foreign policies? How can the United States responsibility for its corporate citizens abroad best be handled: unilaterally, multi-laterally, or through worldwide agreement? Should a special world organization be established for multi-national surveillance, regulation, supervision, and enforcement of rules?
Labor : How are U.S.A. workers manipulated to their disadvantage by the great freedom enjoyed by multinationals in moving and operating around the world? Do foreign operations in fact diminish the advantages of workers as American citizens (with all the responsibilities accruing thereto) while maximizing the advantages of corporate managers and owners?
Industrial and Public Safety : How is the public to be protected from the ever-increasing incidence and burden of chemical and other industrial processes? What standards of protection of the public can be established?
Judiciary : Should a special set of procedures be devised to handle cases involving multiple plaintiffs and defendants of many nationalities? Should these cases be referred to the United States District Court in Washington, D.C. which could develop an expertise in the area of multinational tort law. Is the present law of liability adequate for coping with prolonged and indefinitely experienced injuries and for the new types of liability, some of them unrealized upon their initial occurrence? Should the foreign incident liability of U.S. corporations be ascertained and codified? What rules should be set up for multiple and duplicate legal representation in class action cases? Should a national or world reserve fund be established to cover or insure against transnational liabilities? Does the doctrine of punitive damages require legislative definition?
Taxation : To what extent do U.S. multi-national corporations profit unduly under existing tax systems from shifting operations around the world? How can a fair balance be struck to ensure that tax-evasion becomes an ineffective motive for corporate movements and maneuvers, both fiscal and operational?
These questions present large, important, and evident issues that Congress is well equipped to address. We hope that you can discuss them with your colleagues, and in due course authorize a systematic investigation and program of legislation by means of a Special Committee on Hazardous Industrial Practices.
Alfred de Grazia