For Immediate Release: March 24th, 2014
On 25th Anniversary of Exxon Valdez Oil Spill, SJR 25 Heard In Senate Judiciary
Senator Gardner Urges Alaska Dept of Law and US Dept of Justice to Collect $92 million “Reopener” Claim
JUNEAU – On the 25th anniversary of the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill, Senate Joint Resolution 25, sponsored by Senator Berta Gardner was heard and held in the Senate Judiciary Committee.
“We have a little over two years to pursue our final claim from Exxon. Scientists are still finding relatively fresh oil and many species have not recovered. We cannot just say we’ve done what we can and it’s all over – especially with drilling anticipated offshore in the Arctic Ocean. This is significant for Alaska and for people around the world,” stated Senator Berta Gardner (D-Anchorage).
In 1991 the state of Alaska and the US government settled claims against Exxon for $900 million in civil damages, $100 million in criminal restitution, and a $25 million criminal fine. This agreement also included a “reopener for unknown injury.” Exxon agreed to pay up to an additional $100 million if unanticipated or added injuries were found after the settlement.
In 2006 Governor Murkowski, at the urging of the Alaska Legislature, collaborated with the Bush administration to develop a restoration plan for unknown injuries and presented Exxon with a $92 million demand for payment. Exxon rejected the claim, refusing to honor its obligations as set forth in the 1991 settlement.
Studies show a substantial amount of Exxon oil remains on beaches and in substrates and that oil is nearly as toxic as it was the first few weeks after the spill. Birds, fish, and mammals in the region continue to be affected.
SJR 25 urges Alaska and the federal government to pursue the delinquent $92 million in claims. On June 25th, 2010 the statute of limitations was instituted on the claim, Alaska has until June 25th, 2016 to file a claim.
“We will never forget this horrible tragedy, but Alaska continues to work to repair the damage. All avenues of environmental and economic restoration should be fully pursued, Alaskans demand nothing less,” said Senator Gardner.
For more information, contact Senator Gardner at (907) 465-4930.