Friday, June 27, 2008

Exxon-Valdez -- What Really Happened

Under the Supreme Court's other big decision yesterday, he has every right to buy that gun and carry it around in DC. The actual shooting is still barred by law, I think -- you never know how far the 2nd Amendment goes anymore, do you? Is the Exxon-Valdez oil spill the equivalent of a home invasion?

This article about what really happened in the Exxon-Valdez case is important. I saw this all the time in our asbestos practice -- before the asbestos companies took advantage of the bankruptcy laws and screwed all the workers they had poisoned for decades. Lawyers for companies would say right out, this is the most you are ever going to get. You may win at trial, but we'll appeal and you know how conservative the appeals courts are. We'll win on your appeal and your clients will get pennies on the dollar. And that was happening before Bush spent seven years packing the federal courts with even more rightwing nutjobs.

Read the rest of the article to see all the promises the oil companies made to the Alaskan natives to get the use of the Valdez Port, and how all those promises were cynically broken. Court Rewards Exxon for Valdez Oil Spill

Twenty years after Exxon Valdez slimed over one thousand miles of Alaskan beaches, the company has yet to pay the $5 billion in punitive damages awarded by the jury. And now they won't have to. The Supreme Court today cut Exxon's liability by 90% to half a billion. It's so cheap, it's like a permit to spill.

Exxon knew this would happen. Right after the spill, I was brought to Alaska by the Natives whose Prince William Sound islands, livelihoods, and their food source was contaminated by Exxon crude. My assignment: to investigate oil company frauds that led to to the disaster. There were plenty.

But before we brought charges, the Natives hoped to settle with the oil company, to receive just enough compensation to buy some boats and rebuild their island villages to withstand what would be a decade of trying to survive in a polluted ecological death zone.

In San Diego, I met with Exxon's US production chief, Otto Harrison, who said, "Admit it; the oil spill's the best thing to happen" to the Natives.

His company offered the Natives pennies on the dollar. The oil men added a cruel threat: take it or leave it -- and wait twenty years to get even the pennies. Exxon is immortal - but Natives die.

And they did. A third of the Native fishermen and seal hunters I worked with are dead. Now their families will collect one tenth of their award, two decades too late.


The Light said...

More of the fuck you attitude of the capitalist pigs that feed the hogs at the trough in DC. Exxon is still getting subsidies for everything under the sun. Why? Because they own every politician.

lovable liberal said...

Has Alaska passed the Castle Doctrine that got Joe Horn off from killing a couple of burglars over $2000 they stole from his neighbors?

Anonymous said...

I have no doubt that he was harmed by the spill but what an incredibly racist comment from Henry Makarka.
Does this bigot really think that race had anything to do with it?