WASHINGTON, D.C. – Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski and Washington Senator Patty Murray today announced a bipartisan effort to convince ExxonMobil Corporation to finally provide compensation to more than 32,000 individuals and firms nationwide that were damaged after the Exxon Valdez oil tanker spilled nearly 11 million gallons of crude oil into Alaska’s Prince William Sound more than 17 years ago.
The Senators gathered the signatures of nearly a quarter of the U.S. Senate onto a letter to new ExxonMobil Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Rex Tillerson asking that the corporation either restart settlement talks or simply pay the $4.5 billion in damages awarded by a federal jury 12 years ago.
“While most of Alaska’s fisheries have recovered from the spill, the herring fishery in Prince William Sound remains closed, hurting the livelihoods of many fishermen,” said Senator Murkowski. “Though the courts this summer will decide whether Exxon should pay more to fund additional cleanup and restoration efforts in Alaska waters, it is only just that fishermen and other citizens harmed by the spill finally get the compensation they were awarded by the federal courts a dozen years ago.”
“Twelve years is far too long for thousands of fishermen and businesses in Washington state, Alaska, and across the country to wait for the compensation they deserve,” Senator Murray said. “Exxon has a legal mandate to compensate our communities who continue to pay the price for an accident that was not their own doing. It’s time for Exxon to either begin meaningful negotiations or come clean and pay these damages that have been awarded and repeatedly upheld.”
In 1994, a federal jury, after deliberating for 22 days, returned a unanimous verdict against Exxon awarding total damages of $5 billion. Exxon appealed on multiple grounds, filing 60 petitions, and over 1,000 briefs and motions, delaying a final verdict in the case that has been to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals for review on nine different occasions. While the damages have been upheld three times, the amount has been reduced to $4.5 billion, plus interest. The case was heard again by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco in January, but without new settlement talks or a change in ExxonMobil’s legal strategy, the case could take years longer to reach a final resolution in the courts.
Claimants per state: Alaska 20,539, Washington 5,278, Oregon 1,289, California 1,448, Hawaii 187, Idaho 315, Nevada 144, Arizona 270, Utah 115, Montana 220, Wyoming 47, Colorado 271, New Mexico 64, Texas 210, Oklahoma 40, Kansas 30, Nebraska 24, South Dakota 43, North Dakota 23, Minnesota 279, Wisconsin 120, Iowa 45, Missouri 70, Arkansas 15, Louisiana 38, Mississippi 23, Alabama 21, Tennessee 45, Kentucky 19, Illinois 48, Michigan 110, Indiana 43, Ohio 65, West Virginia 3, Florida 168, Georgia 51, South Carolina 12, North Carolina 47, Virginia 54, Maryland 42, District of Columbia 5, Delaware 3, New York 109, Pennsylvania 64, New Jersey 24, Rhode Island 3, Massachusetts 44, Connecticut 16, Vermont 23, New Hampshire 25, Maine 28.
Read the letter to Exxon CEO Tillerson