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Press Room:  For Immediate Release 
Explore, Enjoy and Protect the Planet

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 25, 2008

Contact: Kristina Johnson
415.977-5619

Supreme Court Delivers Slap on the Hand to Exxon
Decision is a Reminder of the Risk Oil Poses to our Coasts

Washington, D.C. - Today the Supreme Court slashed the amount of punitive damages owed by Exxon for its infamous 1989 oil spill—from $2.5 billion to just $507.5 million.  The Exxon Valdez oil spill was one of the worst environmental disasters in history, dumping roughly 11 million gallons of oil into Prince William Sound, killing roughly 500,000 sea birds, 5,000 sea otters, two dozen orca whales, and millions of salmon and herring eggs and destroying the livelihoods of fishermen and Alaska natives.

Statement of Sierra Club Executive Director Carl Pope

Our highest court is letting Exxon off the hook for reckless behavior that led to one of the worst environmental disasters in American history.  

These paltry damages are a drop in the bucket for Exxon, a company that made more than $40 billion last year alone. This is a slap on the hand that provides little incentive for oil companies to beef up safety standards and avoid future spills.

Sadly, the environmental impacts of the disaster persist today, and scientists say we’ll still see shoreline damage from the spill thirty years from now. The real damage done to our coasts, and to the hardworking fishermen and Alaska natives whose lives were destroyed as a result of the spill, can never be repaired. But the Supreme Court has decided not to hold the company fully accountable for its carelessness. 

This should be a reminder of the threat oil poses to our oceans and coasts. There is no effective method for cleaning up an oil spill, and where there are tankers and drilling there will always be spills. Instead of risking more oil spills like the Exxon Valdez disaster, we should start embracing clean energy solutions that don’t jeopardize our beaches and communities.

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