Exxon off the hook for 1989 oil spill: Statement by Alaska Native Leader, Dune Lankard

posted by Rainforest Action Network

I really don’t understand how oil companies get away with destroying people and the planet!!! After almost 20 years waiting for justice to prevail for the environment and local people affected by the Exxon Valdez oil spill, the U.S. Supreme Court decided on Wednesday to reduce the company’s punitive damages to $500 million from $5 billion. This means that each person affected by the spill will receive $15,000 on top of what they’ve already received in compensatory damages. This is nothing compared to what was lost as a result of Exxon’s lack of social and environmental responsibility. Even though no amount of money could pay for the damage done, the Supreme Court’s decision to absolve Exxon of 90% of what it owed to the people of Alaska is deplorable. It really proves where our country’s priorities are…protecting corporate oil interests, not the people or the planet.

Here’s a couple articles with photos and videos to learn more:

Court Rewards Exxon for Valdez Oil Spill, by Greg Palast
Damages Cut for Exxon in Valdez Suit, New York Times, by Adam Liptak
Oil Spill Ruling leaves Alaska Victims Stunned, Associated Press, by Rachel D’Oro

Here’s a statement by my friend Dune Lankard, Eyak Native Leader from Cordova, Alaska:

After hearing this US Supreme Court decision (on the 1989 Exxon spill)
while here on the fishing grounds of Prince William Sound, fishermen
(both men and women), Alaskans and Americans should be outraged and
demand full accountability from our Courts and Exxon!

This was our nation’s biggest man made oil spill, Exxon has forever
injured us– physically, mentally, spiritually, economically and our
precious and once thriving habitat. Now, over 30,000 plaintiffs will
never see a “fair and just settlement” from this technological

The Supreme Court justices should be tarred (in crude) and feathered
and run out of town. This proves that protecting “Big Oil and their
net profits” is much more important than protecting the rights and way
of life of hard working citizens, let alone protecting our rights to
clean air and clean water.

This bad U.S. Supreme Court decision is absolutely horrifying and
criminal. This settlement (approximately $15,000 each) amounts to one
good day of fishing on the Sound. In 1989, Exxon came here and
promised to make us “whole again,” yet did everything in their power
and money to see that justice would never prevail!

We fishermen here in Alaska provide wild salmon meals for the planet.
One would think that the people who are feeding the world one of the
healthiest food resources on earth, that our rights and way of life
should equally be upheld and protected by the Courts.

We will continue to persevere and feed the people of the world, but
from here on out we will never ever trust the oil industry, government
or the courts. Because we now know that if a disaster happens that we
will be the ones left to defend and restore our rights and way of
life. This should be a huge wake up call to ALL the people here in
America that our way of life is expendable and that it is up to us to
protect our homelands and way of life, because no one else will.

Dune Lankard

Commercial fisherman, Native inhabitant and conservationist here in
Prince William Sound and the Copper River Delta