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Greenpeace: Supreme Court Ruling Compounds ExxonMobil's Betrayal of Alaskan Communities

June 25, 2008
1:55 PM

CONTACT: Greenpeace
Jane Kochersperger, Greenpeace Media Office in the U.S.,
(202) 319-2493 direct; (202) 680-3798, cell;

Supreme Court Ruling Compounds ExxonMobil's Betrayal of Alaskan Communities
Statement by John Passacantando, Executive Director, Greenpeace USA
WASHINGTON - June 25 - “Today’s Supreme Court ruling seals ExxonMobil’s betrayal of the Alaskan communities, fishermen and others who deserved far better after their long and difficult battle to hold ExxonMobil accountable for the Valdez oil spill.

“More than 3,000 of the original plaintiffs died before they could see justice served because ExxonMobil spent nineteen years fighting just compensation for those affected by the spill.

“For the Court to require a company that recorded a 2007 profit of $40.6 billion and that posted the highest quarterly results in U.S. corporate history in February to pay a mere $500 million in punitive damages to the affected Alaskans makes a mockery of justice.

“The worst environmental calamity in U.S. history will continue to haunt the Prince William Sound and those dependent upon it for their livelihoods. Crude oil still can be found under rocks along the Sound’s shores, and fishery scientists estimate that only ten percent of the oil was ever cleaned up.

"As long as America maintains its addiction to oil, the country will remain at risk of environmental disasters such as the one caused by the Exxon Valdez.”

Background – On March 24, 1989, the oil tanker Exxon Valdez ran aground on Bligh Reef, spilling 11 million gallons of crude oil into Prince William Sound and creating an oil slick covering 1,300 miles of Alaska’s pristine coasts. In 1994, an Alaska court ordered ExxonMobil to pay $287 million in compensatory damages and $5 billion in punitive damages to 40,000 commercial fishermen, Alaskan Natives, property owners and others harmed by the spill. ExxonMobil appealed the case to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, which eventually ruled that $5 billion in punitive damages was excessive and reduced it to $2.5 billion. ExxonMobil then asked the U.S. Supreme Court to rule against any punitive damages.


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