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    Repiglican Roast

    A spirited discussion of public policy and current issues

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    I'm furious about my squandered nation.

    Wednesday, August 27, 2008

    Exxon Refused to pay orignal fine of 5 billion ( they make in a month ) for 20 years

    Last year, Exxon Mobil netted a record $40.6 billion in profits. At that rate, it could pay the punitive damages with about four days' worth of profits. But in the end, the punitive damages will amount to only a small part of the company's payout: Exxon already has spent $2 billion on environmental cleanup and paid $1.4 billion more in fines and compensation to thousands of fishermen and cannery workers.

    In a statement Wednesday, Exxon Mobil Chairman and Chief Executive Rex W. Tillerson said that "the Valdez oil spill was a tragic accident and one which the corporation deeply regrets. . . . We have worked hard over many years to address the impacts of the spill and to prevent such accidents from happening in our company again."

    But some lawmakers and environmentalists faulted the court for giving a big-money reprieve to one of the world's richest companies. Exxon Mobil earned more than $10 billion in profits in the first quarter of this year.
    "This ruling is another in a line of cases where this Supreme Court has misconstrued congressional intent to benefit large corporations," said Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.).

    The executive director of Greenpeace called the decision a betrayal of Alaskan communities and their fishermen. They "deserved far better after their long and difficult battle to hold Exxon Mobil accountable," said John Passacantando. He described the oil spill as "the worst environmental calamity in U.S. history."

    1989 Exxon Valdez spill

    At issue Wednesday were the punitive damages awarded to more than 32,000 fishermen, cannery workers and Alaska natives whose livelihoods were damaged or destroyed by the oil spill. A jury in Alaska agreed that the company should be punished for its recklessness, and it handed down a $5-billion award.

    Exxon appealed, insisting that verdict was out of line. Its lawyers pointed out that for centuries, shipowners were not punished for accidents on the high seas even if their captain was at fault. (In earlier times, shipowners had no way to contact captains after they had left port.)

    Eventually, the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals reduced the punitive damages to $2.5 billion. But Exxon appealed to the Supreme Court, arguing that the judgment should be thrown out entirely.

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