HJR 42: Requesting Exxon Mobil Corporation to pay claimants for court-ordered damages resulting from the Exxon Valdez oil spill.
00 HOUSE JOINT RESOLUTION NO. 42 01 Requesting Exxon Mobil Corporation to pay claimants for court-ordered damages resulting 02 from the Exxon Valdez oil spill. 03 BE IT RESOLVED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF ALASKA: 04 WHEREAS, on March 24, 1989, at 12:04 a.m., the oil tanker Exxon Valdez grounded 05 on Bligh Reef in Prince William Sound resulting in a spill of 11,000,000 gallons of North 06 Slope crude oil along Alaska's shoreline; and 07 WHEREAS, immediately following the spill, executives of Exxon Corporation 08 promised the residents of the state that they would make Alaska whole again; and 09 WHEREAS the oil spill killed or affected seabirds, sea otters, harbor seals, bald 10 eagles, killer whales, salmon and herring eggs, and many tidal plants and animals, and has 11 caused long-term damage to the environment of Prince William Sound; and 12 WHEREAS the oil spill affected many communities; commercial, subsistence, and 13 sport fishermen; tourism operators; subsistence gatherers; large and small businesses; and 14 others in the area; and 15 WHEREAS, on September 16, 1994, an Alaska jury in the federal district court 16 returned verdicts against Exxon Corporation to help compensate those affected by the spill;
01 the verdicts provided for payment of damages in the amount of nearly $5,300,000,000, of 02 which $5,000,000,000 represents an award of punitive damages; and 03 WHEREAS, between 1994 and 1996, the federal district court judge denied numerous 04 motions by Exxon Corporation to overturn or adjust the verdicts, and the corporation 05 continues to file motions that delay settlement of the case; and 06 WHEREAS, between 1996 and today, Exxon Corporation filed two motions for new 07 trials that were denied by the federal court; and 08 WHEREAS, in November 2001, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth 09 Circuit issued an opinion concluding that the punitive damages decision of the trial court was 10 excessive, and directing a review; and 11 WHEREAS, in December 2002, the trial court reduced the punitive damages award 12 to $4,000,000,000; and 13 WHEREAS, following a second appeal by Exxon Mobil Corporation, the United 14 States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit again found the trial court's punitive damage 15 award excessive and ordered a reconsideration in light of an intervening United States 16 Supreme Court decision setting out a mechanism by which to calculate punitive damages 17 based on actual damages; and 18 WHEREAS the trial court has now ordered Exxon Mobil Corporation to pay 19 $4,500,000,000 in punitive damages and another $2,250,000,000 in interest, with the 20 defendant indicating that it would file a further appeal in the United States Court of Appeals 21 for the Ninth Circuit; and 22 WHEREAS Exxon Mobil Corporation has been paying for research projects 23 challenging the competency of juries to fairly set punitive damages and cites these results in 24 its appeal; and 25 WHEREAS Exxon Corporation has prospered financially in the 15 years since the oil 26 spill and has merged with Mobil Corporation to create the largest corporation in the world, 27 recording $21,510,000,000 in corporate profits during fiscal year 2003; and 28 WHEREAS, 15 years after the oil spill and nearly 10 years after the damage 29 judgment, 32,000 claimants are still waiting for payment of compensatory and punitive 30 damages; 1,200 claimants have died since 1989; and 31 WHEREAS the majority of the claimants who are owed compensatory and punitive
01 damages are working men and women with families, homes, mortgages, and financial 02 obligations; and 03 WHEREAS the petroleum industry plays a vital role in providing revenue, 04 employment, and economic stability for the state; and 05 WHEREAS the Alaska State Legislature has encouraged development of the 06 petroleum industry through incentives and partnerships; and 07 WHEREAS Governor Murkowski has called upon Exxon Mobil Corporation to settle 08 this suit; and 09 WHEREAS, in order to foster partnerships between Exxon Mobil Corporation and 10 the people of Alaska, Exxon Mobil Corporation must make good on its promise to make 11 Alaska whole again, and pay its debt to the people of Alaska as prescribed by the court. 12 BE IT RESOLVED that the Alaska State Legislature urges the Exxon Mobil 13 Corporation to immediately pay the compensatory damages awarded in the court-ordered 14 judgment, and to pay the punitive damages, without further delay or appeal; and be it 15 FURTHER RESOLVED that the Alaska State Legislature urges the governor not to 16 entertain any proposal to negotiate draft contracts under the Alaska Stranded Gas 17 Development Act pertaining to North Slope stranded gas until Exxon Mobil Corporation pays 18 the punitive damages awarded in the judgment handed down by Judge Russel Holland on 19 December 28, 2003. 20 COPIES of this resolution shall be sent to the Honorable George W. Bush, President 21 of the United States; the Honorable Richard B. Cheney, Vice-President of the United States 22 and President of the U.S. Senate; the Honorable John Ashcroft, Attorney General of the 23 United States; the Honorable J. Dennis Hastert, Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives; 24 the Honorable Bill Frist, Majority Leader of the U.S. Senate; Timothy J. Muris, Chairman of 25 the Federal Trade Commission; Susan Creighton, Director, Bureau of Competition, Federal 26 Trade Commission; the Honorable Ted Stevens and the Honorable Lisa Murkowski, U.S. 27 Senators, and the Honorable Don Young, U.S. Representative, members of the Alaska 28 delegation in Congress; and Lee R. Raymond, Chairman, Chief Executive Officer, and 29 President of Exxon Mobil Corporation.