The 1991 Exxon Valdez Oil Spill settlement agreement included a provision entitled Re-Opener for Unknown Injury that allowed the state and federal governments to submit a claim for up to $100 million for damages not foreseen at the time of settlement. Prince William Soundkeeper (PWSK) along with other environmental and advocacy organizations worked to prod the government to apply for the provision in 2006. Governor Murkowski's Attorney General found that “After extensive review, it is clear that populations and habitat within the spill area have suffered substantial and unanticipated injuries that are attributable to the Exxon Valdez oil spill,” and the State presented jointly with the US Government to ExxonMobil a demand for payment of $92,240,982.
Neither the State nor the Federal Government have pursued the fact that for 9 years ExxonMobil has ignored the request and no payment has been made. Resolutions to the Alaska State Legislature were submitted in 2014 and 2015 urging the State to compel ExxonMobil to pay what they legally owe by Representatives Gardner and Josephson respectively. The Resolutions were ignored during session.
During their September board meeting in Kodiak, the Prince William Sound Regional Citizen’s Advisory Council introduced, and voted unanimously in favor of, a Resolution in support of the EVOS Re-Opener for Unknown Injury Clause. “A Resolution supporting habitat restoration pursuant to damages caused by the 1989 Exxon Valdez Oil Spill.” The Resolution simply urged, “a meeting between the United States, the State of Alaska, Exxon, Inc., and the EVOS Trustees Council in an effort to reach agreement on implementation of the 2006 plan.” This Resolution was submitted in person to the Governor.
Federal District Court Judge Holland has ordered a hearing on Oct. 15, 2015. Regarding the upcoming hearing, the government has told the court that: "The governments will make every effort to agree on and, if possible, initiate a course of action by that date."
The hearing is scheduled for 10 a.m. in Courtroom #4, Federal District Court, 7th Avenue, Anchorage, AK. PWSK along with Professor Rick Steiner will be attending.