I’m still traveling the River roads along the Texas border for Muro del Odio. But it important to remember Valdez and the ongoing spoiling of our Ocean (yes, there is just one, despite all the names we’ve created).
Please read and consider the release from the Galveston Baykeepers…
Exxon Valdez Oil Spill Case Has Implications for Galveston Bay
Seabrook, Texas ― Today the U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral argument on the case surrounding the Exxon Valdez oil spill. In 1987 the tanker Exxon Valdez spilled 30 to 35 million gallons of Alaskan crude oil into Prince William Sound. The Court will hear arguments from Exxon why it should escape the $5 billion liability award imposed by an Anchorage jury in 1994.
The High Court’s decision holds special relevance for oil spill prevention and clean-up in Galveston Bay.
“The issue is whether we will hold oil companies responsible for the safety of their ships, said Charlotte Wells. “Each day, oil tankers ply the water of Galveston Bay. If Exxon avoids responsibility for this tragic but preventable accident it will increase the risk to every waterbody and coastline in the nation from oil tanker traffic.”
Among other claims, Exxon has argued that an 1818 maritime case known as the Amiable Nancy insulates shippers from the damages incurred by their vessel captains. That case hinged on the fact that ships of that era typically left port for years at a time with no contact with the vessel owner; today’s modern communications obviously create changed circumstances.
“The Exxon Valdez oil spill showed that oil is considerably more toxic in the long term than scientists previously thought,” said Alaska-based Prince William Soundkeeper Jennifer Gibbons. “The once lucrative herring fisheries of Prince William Sound are now gone and twenty years after the spill, along hundreds of miles of coastline, you can still scoop oil up with your fingers.”
According to data from the Texas General Land Office, between 1998 and 2002 more than 260,000 gallons of petroleum products were spilled into Galveston Bay. Bunker and other heavy fuel oils comprised 43.5% (114, 032 gallons) of the amount spilled. The Houston Ship Channel was the location of the largest volume of spills (133,084 gallons or 50.8%). Galveston Bay had the second largest volume of petroleum product spilled (52,118 gallons or 19.9%).
Galveston Baykeeper believes polluters should be held responsible. If Exxon goes unpunished, how will the public be assured that actions will be taken to prevent future spills and who will be held accountable when an accident occurs?
Through countless appeals and legal maneuvering, Exxon lawyers have whittled down the original $5 billion jury verdict to $2.5 billion, and Exxon is now asking the Supreme Court to disallow that award under U.S. maritime law and the Clean Water Act.
In 2007, Exxon recorded the highest profits of any U.S. corporation ever, pulling in $40.6 billion – or more than $1,287 of profit for every second of 2007.