By now you've probably seen yesterday’s Supreme Court decision, which reduced what had once been a $5 billion punitive damages award against Exxon Mobil for the 1989 oil spill to about $500 million.
Oceana’s Vice President of our Pacific office, Jim Ayers, had this to say about the decision:
"The Exxon Valdez oil spill was an assault on the communities, marine life and ocean ecosystems of Prince William Sound and beyond. Today’s opinion adds insult to injury by putting corporate interests above fishermen and local communities, and our hearts go out to those people still suffering from the tragic effects of the spill.
Almost twenty years after the Exxon Valdez spill we are rushing to drill for oil in the Arctic Ocean. It’s as if we haven’t learned anything from our past mistakes. We must develop laws and plans to protect the Arctic from the severe threats that the oil industry brings to people, marine life and natural resources. Even industry and the government admit that an oil spill in Arctic seas is likely, and it is impossible to clean up a spill in icy Arctic waters. Regulation of the oil industry is woefully insufficient, and today’s Supreme Court decision removes one more incentive for the oil companies to be careful. We cannot afford to repeat the tragic mistakes of the past when the future of the Arctic is at stake."
( Jim Ayers was Executive Director of the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill Trustee Council from 1993 to 1994, and Chief of Staff for Alaska Governor Tony Knowles from 1995-2001, the longest-serving tenure of any Chief of Staff in Alaska’s history. Mr. Ayers has been Vice President of Oceana since 2002.)
[Image: John Gaps III/Associated Press via www.nytimes.com]