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Sat Dec 10, 2016, 06:37 PM

March 24, 1989

Last edited Sat Dec 10, 2016, 11:36 PM - Edit history (2)

Really, Trump? Do any other Alaskans feel like Trump's likely Secretary of State choice is a slap to the face of Alaska?

IN 2008, when the Supreme Court reduced the punitive damages Exxon was to pay for the Exxon Valdez oil spill from $2.5 billion to $500 million, Rex Tillerson, Donald Trump's choice for U.S. Secretary of State, was the CEO of Exxon, as he is today.

From Robert Barnes' article in the Washington Post, june 26, 2008:

A jury had originally awarded $5 billion to the nearly 33,000 fishermen, Native Alaskans and landowners brought together in the class-action lawsuit against Exxon Mobil, and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit reduced the amount to $2.5 billion.

The Exxon Valdez oil tanker left the port of Valdez, Alaska, late on the evening of March 23, 1989, loaded with 53 million gallons of crude oil. Capt. Joseph Hazelwood, who had been drinking that night, was in charge when the nearly 1,000-foot vessel aground on a reef, and nearly 11 million gallons of oil flowed into Prince William Sound. It was the worst oil spill in North America.

"In light of Exxon's decision to permit a lapsed alcoholic to command a supertanker carrying tens of millions of gallons of crude oil through the treacherous waters of Prince William Sound, thereby endangering all of the individuals who depended upon the sound for their livelihoods, the jury could reasonably have given expression to its 'moral condemnation' of Exxon's conduct in the form of this award," he wrote.

Exxon Mobil, through its Washington attorney Walter E. Dellinger, argued that it had been punished enough. The company said it has paid $3.4 billion in cleanup costs and other penalties for the oil spill, which polluted 1,200 miles of Alaskan coastline.

The company issued a statement from chairman and chief executive Rex W. Tillerson that said, in part: "We know this has been a very difficult time for everyone involved. 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."

Alaska politicians denounced the decision. "Today's ruling adds insult to injury to the fishermen, communities and Alaska natives who have been waiting nearly 20 years for proper compensation following the worst environmental disaster in our nation's history," Sens. Ted Stevens and Lisa Murkowski and Rep. Don Young, who are all Republicans, said in a joint statement.

Here is the full story:

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