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. The federal government stood neutral, and after a sustained effort to prod the state by fishermen, community members and advocacy groups including Prince William Soundkeeper (PWSK), the State applied for the provision in 2006. The State Attorney General under Gov. Murkowski 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 U.S. Government to ExxonMobil a demand for payment of $92,240,982. Since then, the Palin and Parnell Administrations have chosen not to pursue the issue.
Resolutions to the Alaska State Legislature have been submitted in both 2014 and the spring 2015 sessions urging the State to compel ExxonMobil to pay what they legally owe the State and the Nation. The State of Alaska has declined to come to any decision.
The Legislature stated they will make their decision during the September 2015 session. The statute of limitations on this ruling runs out in 2016. This summer will be the primary time to bring this issue to the forefront of people’s attention, and to convince the State and Federal government that it is in all of our best interest’s to enforce this ruling.
If the State and Federal government refuse to carry out their legal obligation ExxonMobil walks away. This will set a horrible legal precedent, and will deny the still needed funding for damaged oil spill resource restoration and oil spill impact research. Considering the current attitude of the Alaska Legislature, PWSK has small hope that they will act on the citizen's behalf unless pressured to do so.
PWSK will be launching a Citizen Advocacy and Action Campaign to address this issue and compel the Government to do its duty. Your support in this endeavor is needed. Please join us.