Australian Lefty on Politics, Governance, Science and Info Management

Exxon Mobil ducking and weaseling

Posted by Dave Bath on 2008-02-29

From The Economist "Politics This Week Newsletter" comes the following item that is worrying, because it might let negligent companies off the hook, not only for oil pollution, but for climate damage worse than any terrorist could do:

The US Supreme Court heard an appeal from Exxon Mobil against the precedent of compensation awarded to the 33,000 people whose livelihoods were impaired by the Exxon Valdez disaster.  The tanker spilled its oil into Alaska’s Prince William Sound in 1989.  In 1994 a jury allotted $2.5 billion in punitive damages to those who were affected, around a fifth of whom are now dead.

If Exxon Mobil wins, that will set a precedent that lets companies off when they damage the environment, and stymie the useful actions that are starting, such as the following:

The village of Kivalina–population roughly 400–is suing 14 electric power producers, 5 oil companies and the company that sold 238 million tons of coal last year–fuel for a full 10 percent of U.S. electricity generation.

The suit, filed in the U.S. District Court in San Francisco, alleges that these companies create a public nuisance by emitting or contributing to the emission of millions of metric tons of greenhouse gases every year.

These greenhouse gases are warming the planet and, as a result, the village has seen its shoreline erode as sea ice fails to form. In fact, the residents will likely have to relocate soon and they’d like these companies to pick up the tab.

I bet the rest of "big carbon" will be gathering to fund Exxon Mobil’s case, just like the big tobacco cabal worked together.

Let’s hope that the US Supreme Court doesn’t bow to US political pressure.

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One Response to “Exxon Mobil ducking and weaseling”

  1. […] then again, are we just playing into the hands of the likes of ExxonMobil? As a bit of light entertainment for you all, just take a look at this […]

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