Monday, November 10, 2008

Litigation and the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill

I apologize for attaching the entire journal and just not just the article. This is an interesting publication I receive at work. The article I’m commenting on is the cover story: Exxon Valdez Oil SpillAdd Image Litigation and Community Resilience

I thought this article was very interesting about the Exxon Valdez oil spill and the litigation surrounding it. I have been frustrated with the court system and how people “profit” off something bad happening to them; however, I also believe that companies have an environmental and social responsibility. Exxon Mobile made a profit of $40.6 billion in 2007. The $5 billion they are fighting over is a drop in bucket compared to last year’s profits.

In 19 years of litigation how much did Exxon Mobile spend on legal fees? Exxon walked away with just a tap not even a slap on the hand. While the environment suffered – only 10 out of the 26 species have recovered from the oil spill damages. The spill had killed 250,000 seabirds, 144 bald eagles, 4,400 sea otters, 300 seals, 20 whales, and destroyed billions of salmon and herring eggs. Yes, they had to pay for the environment clean-up which came to over $3.4 billion, but that is required of any spill that occurs. The communities also suffered – the 1990s economic boom skipped those affected by the oil spill. The disaster relief that is available during natural disasters from the government and supporting agencies are unavailable during technological hazards.

I’m not in favor of people getting unreasonable amounts of money because something bad happened to them. However, I also don’t like seeing companies not paying for the destruction they cause. I would have liked to seen some kind of a compromise in this situation. Maybe have the money go to saving endangered species native to the area. Maybe a focus on rebuilding communities that rely on oil production as their sole source of income, or assisting in attracting other income sources – industry, research, etc. Doing more in the field of alternate fuel sources and making things “greener.”

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