It’s a tricky situation, but the gist of it is this— Exxon still hasn’t fairly compensated the people it hurt when the Valdez poured between 10.8 and 30 million gallons of poison into the Alaskan coastline on March 24th 1989. Exxon has various silly reasons for saying they don’t have to pay the people affected by one of the most destructive environmental disasters in history. Mostly they’ve said it was an accident and that they paid to clean things up and they think that is enough.
If a kid plays with matches in a field and accidentally burns a farmer’s entire crop, would cleaning the coals and paying for the seed be enough? Probably not. Imagine the farmer tried to get fair amount of money from that kid, and the kid responds that he has paid a lot already for the seeds, but you know that his parents have chipped and the amount that it cost him has been exaggerated a bit. Who do you feel sorry for? The kid or the farmer? Imagine now that while the farmer tries to get the kid to pay a fair amount he puts that amount in the bank. Imagine that the interest he makes on that money, the money that people agreed is owed to the farmer, has already doubled, but the kid just won’t pay.
Today the Seattle PI reported that courts say Exxon doesn’t have to pay the $5.4 billion that was awarded to the people hurt by their mistakes. The reason is that there are new rues about caps for punitive damages. Exxon has said it payed enough, but insurance and, tax write offs have reduced their losses. The $5.4 billion Exxon owes folks has been set aside earning interest, most folks think the interest has exceeded $5.4 billion by now.
Exxon is coming out of the storm with a scratch, the people who depended on the natural resource that they completely screwed up are missing limbs. Ten percent of those who should have been compensated have died, that is how long this fight has been going on. Children born after the spill are preparing for college.
If you want to see the heart of oil, a heart that still beats at the same cold pace today, look no further than this. Fault has never been clearer, indifference to harm caused couldn’t be less stark. The question is will we learn to hear this twisted heart’s pumping elsewhere?
[tags]big oil, environment, exxon, oil, oil spills, valdez[/tags]