Screwed.

25 06 2008

Well, the extremely predictable ruling came down from the U.S. Supreme Court today. In a 5-3 vote the court decided to hack and slash the original $5 billion, which had already been hacked and slashed to $2.5 billion in punitive damages owed to Prince William Sound fishermen and Alaska Natives affected by the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill to $507.5 million.

First, condolences to the 32,677 plaintiffs, their families, and all those affected by the spill who have been waiting and watching for almost 20 years, while lawyers get fat sucking on the marrow of the oil soaked bones littering the beaches of Prince William Sound. This was hard to take for ALL Alaskans, but for the plaintiffs, and all those who love the Sound, it was twisting the knife.

Second, to all those people who have bought into the idea that the oil companies have been good to Alaska by donating to charities, sponsoring sporting events, and plastering their logos on anything that doesn’t move (and some things that do), listen closely. They. Don’t. Care. Exxon has been fighting this since the moment the $5 billion was awarded to plaintiffs in 1994. Think that’s a lot of money? It’s not. Exxon’s recorded profits last year were $40.6 Billion. That’s PROFIT. Doesn’t make $507.5 million sound particularly punitive, does it? If the health, well-being and welfare of the Alaska people mattered to Exxon Mobil, these people would have been paid 13 years ago. So when you see the oil companies doing something that looks ‘nice’, remember it’s a cost of doing business to shut us up.

Third, any Alaskans who are outraged by this announcement today and are still planning to vote Republican in the upcoming presidential race – wake up. Who were the only supreme court justices voting with the Alaska people and against the interest of corporations? The progressives. Who were the ones that voted against the interest of Alaska? Roberts, Scalia, Thomas, & crew – those conservative judges that John McCain wants more of when he appoints the next 2 or 3 members of the court. Presidents are gone in four to eight years; Supreme Court justices last a lifetime. A court like this is what we get when so many Americans and Alaskans swallow the red Kool Aid, and don’t think about the political ramifications of their votes to their own interest when the chips are down. So, in November, think. Please.

By the time all is said and done a huge portion of the $507.5 million has evaporated with the shrinking value of the dollar since 1989, another huge portion went to the lawyers, 8000 of the plaintiffs are dead, and the Sound has still not recovered, and won’t in our lifetime. They got about 10% of the oil, they think. Sometimes in life, you get a cheap lesson…this wasn’t one of those times.

Don’t forget this when they tell you Pebble Mine won’t destroy the Bristol Bay fishery. Don’t forget this every time we negotiate with the oil companies about anything. Don’t forget this every time you see a warm fuzzy TV commercial, or see oil company logos every time you turn around. Don’t forget that anyone in our state to develop finite natural resources is here for the money. Period. And don’t forget this when you vote in November.


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7 responses

25 06 2008
RedGold

Don’t forget to vote Yes on August 26th on Ballot Measure 4. Defeat the Pebble Mine.

25 06 2008
akmuckraker

You said it, RedGold. I will definitely address that issue before the primary.

26 06 2008
Teave

Our wonderful govenment Do they not realize what the top exec. make? Their salary alone —just ticks me off $15,000 is a slap in the face. Maybe they should take a pay cut everyone else does when things happen. I would love to live in a state that decided to become it’s own country again. The US is getting out of control. What would they do if the states started wanting to break away–Alaska should try that—then they could really charge for their oil!!!!!!!!!!

26 06 2008
aklifer

Equating the Exxon Valdez oil spill to the proposed Pebble prospect is disingenuous at best. One is an issue of resource transportation, the other an issue of exploration. It’s nonsensical to oppose a mining project because of an intoxicated boat captain’s negligence.

26 06 2008
akmuckraker

When both the ‘resource transportation’ and the ‘exploration’ share the consequence of compromising fisheries and the economic and physical health of Alaska residents, it is absolutely the same issue. In a way the Pebble project is worse because that type of mine has always resulted in local contamination, and you can’t use booms to contain the toxins that will destroy Bristol Bay. The bottom line for those making their living in coastal Alaska is what happens at the end, not who started it. That’s the issue.

28 06 2008
brdzwrd

If I may quote from above…

“Presidents are gone in four to eight years; Supreme Court justices last a lifetime.”

They don’t have to — check out this excerpt from Federalist Paper #81:

“..the supposed danger of judiciary encroachments on the legislative authority which has been upon many occasions reiterated is in reality a phantom…the power of instituting impeachments in one part of the legislative body, and of determining upon them in the other, would give [power] to [Congress] upon the members of the judicial department.”

In other words, Congress can impeach any rogue justices; this is reinforced by Federalist #78, “…all judges who may be appointed by the United States are to hold their offices ‘during good behavior'”.

If Begich is really serious about getting rid of these conservative justices, he ought to bring this up as part of his plan of action upon being elected.

More on the constitutionality of the courts here:

youtube.com/brdzwrd

28 06 2008
akmuckraker

Thanks for pointing that out, brdzwrd. Of course this would rely on the Congress actually doing the right thing, and acknowledging the bad behavior. I don’t know if I’ll hold my breath just yet, but I believe if the political climate holds, 2010 will see some Democrats being replaced by more progressive candidates. The reception to Kucinich’s impeachment idea, and the recent Fourth Amendment flaying don’t make me feel particularly optimistic right now, but I continue to feel confident that at some point we will actually get the country back. Good to know that the possibility exists. Thanks again.




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