ExxonMobil Still Fighting Hard to Avoid Making Interest Payments in Valdez Oil Spill Debacle


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For a company that supposedly prides itself on being more than just your "regular" oil firm (is it just me or was every other ad during the Beijing Olympics an ad for ExxonMobil's "softer" side?), ExxonMobil sure has a strange way of showing it. Indeed, while it continues to rake in record profits (most of which I'm guessing does not derive from its non-oil initiatives), it has fought tooth and nail in court to avoid making the interest payments it owes to the victims of the 1989 Valdez oil spill. The Center for Public Integrity's Marianne Lavelle, who got the scoop on the story, notes that the amount it owes, roughly $500 million, corresponds to about three days' worth of its profits.
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Supreme Court decision spared Exxon from worst of punitive measures
You may remember that Exxon got off relatively easy in the lawsuit filed against it by a coalition of Alaskan fishermen, cannery workers and others affected by the spill, with the Supreme Court ruling that it would only need to pay $500 million in damages instead of the original $2.5 billion. Lawyers for the plaintiffs argue that, on top of the $500 million, Exxon also owes the Alaskans $500 million -- the equivalent of 12 years' worth of interest (since the date of the original judgment on September 24, 1996).

Exxon interpretation would allow it to only pay several months' worth in interest
Exxon, obviously, did not agree with the lawyers' interpretation, saying that it should only owe interest from June 25, the date of the Supreme Court's decision. This comes at a time when Exxon announced $14.8 billion in quarterly profits, the largest of any U.S. company in history and divulged that it had spent $8 billion to buy back its own stock.

Before any money gets disbursed to the plaintiffs (assuming they win their case, of course), another dispute involving Sea Hawk Seafoods, a Seattle-based company that operated a fish-processing plant in the area, will need to be resolved. The company has challenged the court's formula for distributing the money, so a decision will need to be reached before the other plaintiffs can begin receiving an average of $15,000 (double that if Exxon is made to cough up the interest) each.

Looks like Exxon may need to pour more cash into blanketing the airwaves with sappy, tear-jerking ads if it hopes to get rid of all this bad (but well-deserved) publicity.

Via: PaperTrail Blog: ENERGY: Amid Record Profits, Exxon Tries to Shirk Interest Payments in Valdez Oil Spill Case
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Tags: Oil Spill | Pollution