Far from protecting the environment, the EPA creates incentives for businesses to pollute to the maximum extent. Netflix’s Iron Fist shows how this works perfectly.
The Rand Corporation Hides Behind Emissions Standards
In Iron Fist, the Rand Corporation finds itself the subject of a class-action lawsuit. The plaintiffs claim that emissions from the Rand chemical plant gave them cancer. In episode 5, Joy Meachum from Rand has a meeting with the plaintiffs and their lawyer;
Joy: “We have been compliant with every applicable environmental law and regulation. I’m afraid you’re looking for something that simply isn’t there.”
Lawyer: “We’ll have our own team do the looking.”
Joy: “That’s your prerogative, we have nothing to hide. But if you do manage to establish a connection to the emissions from that plant, our company still followed the law.”
Lawyer: “Then the laws are wrong.”
Joy: “If that’s true your fight doesn’t belong here. Rand enterprises cannot be held responsible for governmental guidelines.”
Joy Meachum states plainly that it’s possible that the Rand Chemical plant may have caused cancer in the residents surrounding the plant. If that’s true, why is she so confident that the plaintiffs don’t have a case? Because they know that they can hide behind the state’s emission standards.
Joy is right. Even if there is a connection between the plant’s emissions and the plaintiff’s cancer, their case in civil court is weak. They should really be petitioning the EPA to change their regulations, which may take years. Even if that happens the plaintiffs may not be paid the damages that they’re seeking through the courts.
A World Without the EPA
Imagine a world without the EPA. The plaintiffs would have a much stronger case since the Rand Corporation would lack the government’s regulations to hide behind. The EPA legitimizes emissions that comply with their regulations. Since it’s embarrassing for them to admit that the standard they set was dangerous, they often defend businesses at the expense of victims.
In a world without the EPA these people may never have even needed to go to court in the first place. The Rand Corporation, without the government’s protection, would understand that they are an easy target for lawsuits. They would need to be much more careful with the types of emissions they expel from their plant. in order to avoid class action lawsuits that they would very likely lose without the EPA on their side.
Iron Fist takes a general anti-business, anti-profit tone throughout the series. The head of the Rand Corporation, Ward Meachum, is a caricature of an evil businessman (minus the twirly mustache). He consistently put the interests of the company above everyone, his family, friends, and especially strangers. However, despite the general anti-business vibe that Iron Fist emits, they demonstrate exactly why the government is the real culprit.