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Refining ExpertiseHow Responsible Engineers Subvert Environmental Justice Challenges$
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Gwen Ottinger

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780814762370

Published to NYU Press Scholarship Online: March 2016

DOI: 10.18574/nyu/9780814762370.001.0001

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Responsible Refiners

Responsible Refiners

(p.129) 5 Responsible Refiners
Refining Expertise

Gwen Ottinger

NYU Press

This chapter examines the Concerned Citizens of New Sarpy's dispute with Orion Refining to illustrate how the association of local facilities with multinational corporations—a facet of neoliberalism's push to global free trade—allowed experts to ground their authority in the moral status of their socially responsible parent companies. It considers how Orion's takeovert by a responsible multinational company, Valero St. Charles Refinery, improved the former's community relations and environmental performance without any change in the regulatory context. It also discusses how neoliberal commitments to corporate social responsibility enabled petrochemical industry engineers and scientists to establish—and reestablish—themselves as credible, competent experts on contestable issues of environmental quality and health.

Keywords:   corporate social responsibility, Concerned Citizens of New Sarpy, Orion Refining, multinational corporations, neoliberalism, experts, Valero St. Charles Refinery, community relations, environmental performance, New Sarpy

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