Jes Hathaway is the editor in chief of National Fisherman magazine and NationalFisherman.com.
Written by Adrianne Madden
September 3, 2009
Yesterday Alaska's Anchorage Daily News reported that Exxon's lawyers are paving the way for the last payments to Valdez claimants.
Since December Exxon's legal team has been sending out checks for $383 million, most of the original punitive damages award. The interest on the damages totals another $470 million.
It's a relief to see Exxon paying at least a fraction of its due, especially the interest. I was horrified when I heard the oil giant might try to shirk that meager responsibility.
Not that I expect any corporation to see logic and act with compassion. But the fact remains, the fishermen and other claimants were innocent bystanders who lost their livelihoods. They did not flirt with the devil by putting a known substance abuser behind the wheel of a tanker and floating it into a burgeoning ecosystem. Nor did they submit appeal after appeal, slowly shrinking the damages to a mere 10 percent of the original reward.
Exxon used lawyers and the erosion of time to their benefit. Twenty years later, few outside of Alaska recall the horror of that spill. So I figure the least Exxon can do is pay up and be done with it. (Too bad they can't come through for the many plaintiffs who died waiting for this battle to end.)
And that's what Alaskans can expect in the mail: the least Exxon can do. I suppose a drop from their bucket is better than another 20 years of waiting.
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