Come to the Muckraker’s Ball!

5 12 2008


If you’re not busy on Saturday night, or even if you are, make plans to attend the 2008 Muckraker’s Ball & Award Ceremony!  No, alas, I had nothing to do with putting together this fabulous event, even though I’d love to take credit, and the name does seem fitting….

Each year Cook Inlet Keeper, an organization dedicated to protecting and preserving the Cook Inlet watershed and the life within it, chooses one deserving Alaskan who has spoken truth to power, and works to hold the government and corporations accountable for their actions.  Isn’t that a nice concept?   To this individual Cook Inlet Keeper bestows the honorary title  of “Muckraker of the Year.”  This year, the recipient is the amazing and incomparable Dr. Ricki Ott, “whose groundbreaking work has played a vital role shining a necessary light on the politicians, bureaucrats, and Exxon Corporation executives who have labored to cover up and ignore the devastation of the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill.”

Believe it or not, we are approaching the 20th anniversary of that event whose after effects are still being felt by residents of the Sound, fisherman, wildlife, and all who hold to that area as a symbol of wildness and beauty.

Dr. Ott will be signing copies of her new book, “Not One Drop: Betrayal and Courage in the Wake of the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill.”

And who is up to emceeing this festive and auspicious event?  None other than Air American radio personality and Alaska blogger, Shannyn Moore!   It will no doubt be loads of fun, and promotes the good work of one of my most favorite organizations.

And to share a small bit of the spirit of Prince William Sound, the site of the Exxon disaster, I’ve added some pictures to the Flickr stream that you’ll find at the bottom of the sidebar.  Enjoy.


Exxcommunicate Exxon – Part II

15 07 2008

Anyone surprised by the latest Exxon headline in the Anchorage Daily News “Exxon Opposes Paying Interest?”   Anyone?  Didn’t think so.  If you are looking forward to a good long rant, I refer you to my previous post “Exxcommunicate Exxon” (part 1).  This will save both repetition and my blood pressure.

Apparently more and more Alaskans are getting on the Exxcommunication bandwagon.  After reading the 85 comments to the ADN article that have been posted so far, I’ve noted the following opinions and their frequency:

We did it to ourselves by voting Republican: 5

Desire to do bodily harm to Exxon executives: 2

Surround Exxon’s Building with pitchforks and torches: 1

Blockade Valdez Narrows: 8  (Although 7 were from the same reeeealy mad guy)

Exxcommunicate Exxon. Kick them out of the state and do not allow them to do business here:  15

Interesting.  The last time we took it on the chin from Exxon a couple weeks ago, I only saw one or two Exxcommunication comments, so perhaps people are getting mad enough to actually start to advocate for this position.  Perhaps karmic balance will come when Exxon and Big Oil in general will so enrage the populace, who will lose every ounce of trust in the oil companies, and therefore put so much pressure on the Governor and the legislature, that we might actually get our own pipeline.  Imagine if you will… (insert harp music here)… The state (that’s us) owns the gas, the state builds the pipeline, the pipeline employs people who live in the state, the pipeline itself is built IN the state, and the people that live in the state get the actual gas.  While we’re at it, let’s get all the Republicans and Democrats to kiss, make up, sing Kumbayah and start working together for the good of all Alaskans.  Don’t wake me up.  I’m going to cling to my reverie for a few more moments…but please feel free to contact Gov. Palin and your legislators and share the dream while I’m away…


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.