… says the US Supreme Court.
Hold on, let’s wheel back and take one by one.
Remember Exxon Valdez? Hundreds of thousands of dead sea animals, over 2000 km of contaminated coastline round the Alaskan Prince William Sound, native Alaskan communities, the original owners of the very Prince William Sound, stripped of their livelihoods and laughed into their faces — an eco system that still today, 19 years afterwards, is affected.
But worst of it all: the biggest oil slick disaster in American history was not an “accident”. It was not a tragic mishap that could’ve happened to anyone. The reef the tanker ran aground on did not move there over night. And Exxon is not even doing the least it could do: pay the $5 billion in punitive damages, as ordered by the court back in 1994.
Greg Palast reports that the Supreme Court has just recently slashed Exxon’s liability down to a meagre and outright ridonculous half a billion. That’s a 90% discount off the original price. The actual verdict of 1994 had in the meantime already been lowered to $2.5 bn, but even that was too high a price to pay for the recklessly neglectful and lying-ass oil giant.
Read Greg Palast’s full article here, it’ll have your hair stand on end.
Some of my “favourite” lines:
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.
In today’s ruling, Supreme Court Justice David Souter wrote that Exxon’s recklessness was ”profitless” – so the company shouldn’t have to pay punitive damages. Profitless, Mr. Souter? Exxon and its oil shipping partners saved billions – BILLIONS – by operating for sixteen years without the oil spill safety equipment they promised, in writing, under oath and by contract. (emphasis mine)
The official story is, “Drunken Skipper Hits Reef.” But don’t believe it, Mr. Souter. Alaska’s Native lands and coastline were destroyed by a systematic fraud motivated by profit-crazed penny-pinching.
It begins in 1969 when big shots from Humble Oil and ARCO (now known as Exxon and British Petroleum) met with the Chugach Natives, owners of the most valuable parcel of land on the planet: Valdez Port, the only conceivable terminus for a pipeline that would handle a trillion dollars in crude oil.
These Alaskan natives ultimately agreed to sell the Exxon consortium this astronomically valuable patch of land — for a single dollar. (emphasis is mine)
In a secret meeting in April 1988, Alyeska Vice-President T.L. Polasek confidentially warned the oil group executives that, because Alyeska had never purchased promised safety equipment, it was simply “not possible” to contain an oil spill past the Valdez Narrows — exactly where the Exxon Valdez ran aground 10 months later.
Now let’s compare Exxon’s own statement, as found on their “Our History” section of the Exxon website.
“On March 24, 1989, the tanker Exxon Valdez runs aground in Prince Williams Sound in Alaska. The Valdez oil spill was a tragic accident that ExxonMobil deeply regrets. The company took immediate responsibility for the spill, cleaned it up and voluntarily compensated those who claimed direct damages.”
So in Exxon’s newspeak, “voluntary compensation” means breadcrumbs for the desperate, and now, after fighting tooth and claws, a tenth of what they were supposed to pay?? Really? They must be very proud of themselves.
Honestly, I can wholeheartedly understand this guy:
A travesty of unbelievable cheek and hypocrisy. And all this in view of the US (and other nations) pondering the prospects of drilling into their continental shelfs for more gas, more money and more fuel-guzzling trucks to go pick up a hot dog down on the corner. And if something goes wrong… hey, at least we know we’re safe and that those who muffed up will be subject to justice regardless of whose politician’s leg they hump.
Listen to Shannyn Moore of KUDO 1080AM and Greg Palast on the Exxon Valdez Verdict