Beyond Profit: Rethinking Corporate Social Responsibility and Greenwashing After the BP Oil Disaster

The explosion of the BP-leased Deepwater Horizon and subsequent oil spill stand as an indictment not just of our national energy priorities and environmental law enforcement; they equally represent a failure of Anglo-American corporate law and what passes for corporate social responsibility in business today. Using BP and the disaster as a compelling case study, this Article examines green marketing and corporate governance and identifies elements of each that encourage firms to engage only superficially in corporate social responsibility yet trumpet those efforts to eager consumers and investors. This Article then proposes reforms and protections designed to increase corporate social responsibility, root out greenwashing, and recognize liability for corporate social responsibility frauds on consumers and investors. One of these protections derives from the newly enacted Dodd-Frank Act, whose Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection could play a leading role in policing fraudulent claims of corporate social responsibility.