It has been a week since the U.S. Supreme Court in their GOP-enhanced judicial activist role, twisted Alaska history in favor of giant, multi-national corporations, and ignored sound arguments, and let oil giant Exxon of the hook for their gross negligence in the Exxon Valdez case.
Back in mid-November, I asked the Democratic Party's U.S. House candidates to express their views on the Palin administration's filing of an amicus brief on behalf of the plaintiffs. Here's a re-print of their November 2007 statements:
Diane Benson on the Exxon Valdez:
Twenty years ago, Exxon had an employee assistance program in place which assured that whenever a tanker skipper had a drinking problem, the skipper would get professional help and would be required to follow guidelines recommended by alcohol treatment professionals. That program mandated that a skipper could be visited by a counselor at any port Exxon visited, at any time. Nineteen years ago, Exxon ended that program to save a few hundred thousand dollars per year.
Eighteen and a half years ago, the Exxon Valdez ran across Bligh Reef because
Exxon, not a ship’s crew, had ended an effective monitoring program, allowing Joe Hazelwood to drink and then return to duty.
Exxon, not a ship’s crew, set up heavy work schedules for tanker crews while berthed at the Alyeska terminal - schedules which exhausted crews.
Exxon, not a ship’s crew, allowed this combination of inebriated, exhausted mariners to navigate their cargo across the pristine waters of Prince William Sound.
Exxon, not a ship’s crew, lobbied and pressured the U.S. Coast Guard to allow their tankers to leave the Prince William Sound tanker navigation lanes during icy conditions, rather than just slow down.
For the focus of this case to now shift, at the Supreme Court level, to an archaic privateering maritime law case, that of the privateer Scourge, in the aftermath of the War of 1812, is almost beyond words. I’m concerned about this intersection of Exxon’s cynical defense and George Bush’s corporation-friendly Court.
Governor Palin has called this case “a kick in the guts” to Alaskans. She almost got it right. What Exxon did to us, to our fishers and coastal residents, rhymes with “a kick in the guts,” but was an even lower blow. To use another maritime law term - we’ve been Shanghaied.
Diane Benson for Congress
ETHAN BERKOWITZ ON EXXON’S LATEST APPEAL
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 16, 2007
Exxon’s appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court is just another example of the company’s repeated failure to treat Alaska like a respected partner. Thousands of Alaskans are still waiting for the money they are owed. All this in spite of the billions and billions of dollars in profit Exxon has taken off the North Slope. It’s too bad that we’re no longer surprised when Exxon has the audacity to lobby our legislators in Juneau for tax fairness, stall in the D.C. courts and leave Alaska twisting in the tide. The Palin Administration did the right thing filing a “friend of the court” brief on behalf of the state and making sure Alaska stands up to Exxon.
Ethan Berkowitz for Congress