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Recently, my father and I started discussing some of the more critical issues of the day, the Oil-Energy Crisis and Global Warming. It didn't take long for us to reach a disagreement, but what impressed me most about the disagreements was that they virtually always turned on which body of scientific 'fact' each of us deemed to be accurate and reliable. Neither of us is a scientist. Based on the body of scientific information my father was presuming, he would be right and I would have been wrong. And the reverse was also true. So I decided to engage my legal research skills in an effort to flesh-out the scientific Truth of these matters, to separate "scientific fact" from fiction. What I discovered was that some facts I had presumed to be true and accurate, were not. And some things I presumed to be false, were not. The same result applied also to my father's points of view. Once one can ascertain which scientific facts are true and accurate, and which are not, the conclusions tend to kind of fall into place on their own. The only unresolved matter remaining after that is the question "How much significance is this particular 'true and accurate fact' entitled to in the overall scheme of things?" Although I was not always able to ascertain an answer to those questions on my own, I did find that there were ample scientific resources and experts out there who could explain which facts were significant and why.
This website (originally an E-mail) contains the fruit of my research efforts. Virtually all of the material herein was derived from government experts, Oil Industry experts and scientific experts (climatologists, geologists, etc) who are universally recognized within their fields as having supreme knowledge of the field and the scientific facts and processes at issue. Some of the information you may discover you already knew, and other facts may surprise you. But in either case, these are the known, accepted facts as the scientific community has assessed them to the best of their abilities. Some things simply are not yet known, because there is no precedent for them in human experience or human history. Here, then, is the body of scientific evidence I have been able to extract on the issues of the Oil-Energy Crisis and the Global Warming Dilemma, both of which are breathing down our necks like impatient drivers idled and aggravated by rush-hour traffic jam gridlock.
TWO PARAMOUNT ISSUES CONVERGE FOR A "PERFECT STORM"
GLOBAL WARMING & OIL DEPENDENCE
Two separate, yet related, issues are addressed in the videos and documentaries below:
1. The Oil-Energy Crisis (including issues about off-shore drilling)
2. Global Warming - Is it really happening? Is it as serious as portrayed? Is it primarily caused by human pollution?
By now it is clear to everyone on the planet that two vital issues have reached a "Critical Mass" at the same time, converging into what could be called a "Perfect Storm" crisis which absolutely must be dealt with "correctly" and "effectively" if we are to avoid a deplorable and monumental decline in our way of Life and our standard of living.
The Oil-Energy Crisis is sitting on top of several ominous conditions: 1) U.S. Dependence on Foreign Oil; 2) Potential Oil resources available to U.S. in its own territory if off-shore exploration and drilling permitted; 3) The unavoidable consequences of reaching and passing the planet's "Peak Oil" production stage without having in place sufficient, viable and sustainable alternative energy sources; 4) Significant Adverse Environmental Consequences of continued use of fossil fuels (wood, coal, gas, oil); 5) Longstanding government and public complacency that has allowed these conditions to reach a critical mass WITHOUT racing to set in place viable energy alternatives that would have at least mitigated the severity of the crisis.
Ironically, the government and public complacency that has stubbornly ignored the inevitability of the "Peak Oil" crisis, parallels the government and public complacency that has ignored the inevitability of the environmental crisis, which we now see is magnifying exponentially, far more rapidly than any experts could ever have predicted, even in their 'worst case scenario' analyses. The same appears to be the case with the Oil-Energy crisis. None of the experts had ever predicted that the oil situation would hit a "Critical Mass" so quickly. Most Peak Oil estimates projected that such turmoil would not manifest for another 10 years or so. The unfortunate difference between these two equally pressing 'problems' is that the Oil-Energy problem manifests immediately and; obviously and painfully in public perceptions. Conversely, the environmental problems will not hit such a 'Critical Mass' in public perceptions (where it manifests immediately and; obviously and painfully) until it is virtually and actually too late to rectify it. For precisely this reason, far too many people are doubting the authenticity of the environmental warnings we've been receiving from the experts. We are like so many ocean-front residents who ignored the police and experts warnings to evacuate, prior to Hurricanes Andrew and Katrina, because the sun was shining at the time and there appeared to be no observable evidence consistent with the warnings. This is exactly why environmental experts have been so vociferous and redundant and neurotic in promulgating the same urgent warnings, over and over again, in a nearly futile effort to drive the point home NOW ... BEFORE we pass the "Event Horizon" (Point Of No Return).
Everything that is now happening in the current Oil-Energy Crisis is fundamentally related to the planet's "Peak Oil" production stage. No discussion about oil is possible without understanding what the planet's "Peak Oil" production stage actually means to U.S. petrochemical consumers. Below are websites explaining the meaning and importance of reaching "Peak Oil" global capacity, including video "Peak Oil" warnings issued by Dallas TX oil billionaire T. Boone Pickens. (videos below)
As to the argument that off-shore exploration and drilling, if permitted, would significantly solve or lessen the problem of U.S. dependence on foreign oil, nearly all geological experts (including the "American Petroleum Institute" API - the trade association of the US oil industry) explain that this is not a quick fix, there is no 'quick fix' and off-shore drilling cannot help with the current Oil-Energy Crisis because the benefits will be 1-2 decades away . . . if we started exploration right now, according to the "American Petroleum Institute" (API). But more importantly, the experts explain that when the benefits are fully realized 1-2 decades from now it will only nominally affect U.S. supplies by 3-4 per cent. It is incapable of significantly resolving the Oil-Energy Crisis now or in the future. Billionaire oil tycoon T. Boone Pickins of Dallas Texas and other experts explain precisely why and Pickins explains the significance of the "Peak Oil" production stage we are now in. (videos below)
According to MMS (U.S. Minerals Management Service), the total Estimated Resources In The Banned U.S. Off-shore Areas Are 17.8 Billion barrels of Oil. That is NOT "17.8 Billion barrels of Oil" PER YEAR. It is "17.8 Billion barrels of Oil" over the entire lifetime of those off-shore oil fields. To put that in perspective, consider the lifetime of the Saudi Arabian oil fields, which were first discovered in 1938. Saudi Arabia has been furiously 'mining' those oil fields for 70 years. They have been the largest oil producing country in the World, and in April, 2006, a Saudi Aramco spokesman admitted that its mature fields are now declining at a rate of 8% per year. They have passed the "Peak Oil" stage. Thus, the 17.8 Billion barrels of Oil lifetime off-shore oil potential must be averaged across a 60 or 80 year period, which is the actual rate of extraction in 'real time' for these oil fields. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) - U.S. Government - U.S. Dept. of Energy, U.S. Oil Consumption Per Day in 2007 was 21 Million Barrels Per Day ($600 billion per year). Thus the off-shore oil fields with a grand total potential of 17.8 Billion barrels of Oil lifetime translates into 2 years worth of oil, in total. But unfortunately, the reality is that it will be a decade or more before the U.S. can realize (acquire) this oil and the extraction rate will necessarily distribute that oil acquisition over a 60 to 80 year lifetime capacity of these fields, meaning the net acquisition of oil from offshore drilling amounts to only 222,500,000 barrels PER YEAR over an 80 year period or 296,666,666 barrels PER YEAR over a 60 year period ... TEN YEARS FROM NOW! That amounts to between 609,589 and 812,785 barrels PER DAY for the U.S. which is consuming 21 million barrels PER DAY, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration's (EIA) - U.S. Dept. of Energy statistics. That means the bottom-line grand total potential off-shore oil amounts to less than three percent (3%) of current U.S. oil consumption. (videos below)
Deron Lovaas, senior energy analyst at the Natural Resources Defense Council, noted that even if billions of barrels of oil are available offshore, the United States still will control only a fraction of the world's supply, and only a fraction of U.S. energy needs, so energy independence simply is NOT within reach, even if off-shore exploration and drilling began right now. That is completely confirmed by the above statistics, which are derived entirely from U.S. Government agencies and U.S. Oil Industry data. The public should not be deceived by election year pandering politician rhetoric that claims our oil woes are significantly attributable to the inability to 'mine' these off-shore oil fields. In that the off-shore oil fields, in total, represent less than 3% of the U.S. daily/yearly consumption, it is fair to characterize that impact as "nominal" ... "trivial" and largely insignificant. (The documentaries, government agency website links and videos below provide you with pinpoint cites for the government and Oil Industry sources for the data used in this discussion).
Although McCain has changed his position, and now favors permitting off-shore exploration and drilling, he still opposes opening up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) to drilling. The only way to understand why he and so many others are opposed to drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR), one must understand the dismal track record of the oil industry, not only in Alaska, but world-wide. And it is necessary to accurately understand why Americans mistrust the oil industry, given the catastrophe of the Exxon Valdez oil spill in Alaska and the morbid consequences continuing to this day. Even the president's brother, Jeb Bush, was adamantly opposed to off-shore drilling near Florida for the entire time he was governor. And before he left office he made sure that Florida's coastline would be off limits until 2022 under the "Gulf of Mexico Energy Security Act" he signed (No doubt he was mindful of the 1979 "Ixtoc I" oil well spill in the Gulf of Mexico, which was the largest oil spill in World history at the time. In a 1980 Report the U.S. Dept. of the Interior wrote that "An exploratory oil well, the IXTOC I, blew out on June 3, 1979 in the Bay of Campeche, Gulf of Mexico . . . The oil released by the IXTOC I was carried by Gulf currents into American waters by August 1979."). We have ample evidence that it cannot be done safely. An abundance of video documentaries below details the devastation in Alaska from the Exxon Valdez oil spill and they detail the deplorable track record of the oil industry. Also below is the U.S. Dept of the Interior Ixtoc I Report cited here. (see web links and videos below)
Sneak Preview: The Exxon Valdez oil spill occurred in Prince William Sound, Alaska, United States, on March 24, 1989. It is considered one of the most devastating man-made environmental disasters ever to occur at sea. As significant as the Exxon Valdez spill was, it ranks well down on the list of the world's largest oil spills in terms of volume released. The vessel spilled 10.8 million U.S. gallons (40.9x103 m3 or 9.0x106 imp gal) of Prudhoe Bay crude oil into the sea, and the oil eventually covered 11,000 square miles (28,000 kmę) of ocean. Thousands of animals died immediately; the best estimates include 250,000 to as many as 500,000 seabirds, at least 1,000 sea otters, approximately 12 river otters, 300 harbour seals, 250 bald eagles, and 22 orcas, as well as the destruction of billions of salmon and herring eggs. The Exxon Valdez spill extended for hundreds of miles across Prince William Sound and the Gulf of Alaska, and it oiled more than 1,300 miles of shorelines (which is approximately equivalent to oiling the combined coastlines of California and Oregon). Crude oil is still polluting Alaskan waters 19 years after the tanker Exxon Valdez ran aground, according to a study by US government scientists to be published in two weeks. The study found more than 26,600 gallons of oil remaining at Prince William Sound. Researchers say it is declining at a rate of only 4% a year and even slower in the Gulf of Alaska. (see documentary videos below where these facts are detailed).
Lastly, the videos below address the issue of "Global Warming" and the dying embers of the last fanatical claims that there is no "Global Warming Crisis" and that burning fossil fuels is NOT having a significant adverse effect on the environment. Such arguments now are considered radical and fanatical, given the consensus among climatology experts world-wide regarding this issue.
Consider This: Twenty years ago James Hansen, a top NASA scientist, told a Senate hearing in June 1988 that global warming was already here. The few skeptics that remain today should consider a few vital facts before petrifying their position. The year 1988 - the year James Hansen first warned the Senate about Global Warming - was the world's hottest year on record. The hottest year globally in recorded history. Since 1988, 14 years have been hotter than 1988 (in other words, 14 years that have broken that 1988 World Heat Record). About the only vocal skeptics today are politicians with no scientific background and no scientific support for their opposing position, and with a motive to pander to the public by telling them what they want to hear . . . INSTEAD OF TELLING THEM THE TRUTH. James Hansen is a top NASA government expert in the field (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration). He is a scientist, the most respected scientist in this field within the scientific community. Why would any sane American dispute the vast majority of experts world-wide and the most respected experts in the field, including NASA, the government's own experts in this field? For the few skeptics who remain, the video documentaries below will decisively explain the inescapable reality of "Global Warming," its causes and consequences.
Regardless of the opinions you may have regarding oil, oil supplies, Global Warming, Off-shore drilling or the environment, the documentary videos below will make us all much wiser, much better informed about the set of impending conditions which already are having an enormously destabilizing effect on us all and on the economy . . . with no relief in sight. Something we can all agree on --- It is vitally important that we correctly understand the problem, if we are to correctly and effectively resolve the monumental problems that are breathing down our necks. It is imperative that 'we' have a correct, accurate understanding of these problems, if we are to press government leaders to 'do the right thing.' The circumstances are sufficiently dire, such that we simply canNOT afford to delude ourselves any longer with wishful thinking, thus squandering the critical time we have remaining, by chasing wild fantasies and red-herrings down a dead-end cul-de-sac. We cannot afford to get it wrong (as we have done for the past 30 years). None of the experts are apocalyptic type doomsayers, but they are emphatic that there is no room to get it wrong yet again, if we are to avoid a great calamity. The documentary videos below simply represent one installment in the course of becoming responsibly informed about the critical problems we are confronted with and the viable options available to us.
Matthew Simmons (Bloomberg Report): Peak Oil Now, Oil Perhaps to
$300 Matthew Simmons, chairman of Simmons & Co. International in Houston,
talked yesterday with Bloomberg's Rhonda Schaffler about "Peak Oil" http://youtube.com/watch?v=4IwtAQzrfiw
Minerals Management Service - Gulf of Mexico Region
U.S. Government Agency - Dept. of the Interior
1980 Study Title: "Economic Impact of Oil Spills on the Texas Coast" FY 1980
BACKGROUND: An exploratory oil well, the IXTOC I, blew out on June 3, 1979 in the Bay of Campeche, Gulf of Mexico. The IXTOC I was the world's largest and probably most expensive oil spill. The oil released by the IXTOC I was carried by Gulf currents into American waters by August 1979. http://www.gomr.mms.gov/PI/PDFImages/ESPIS/3/3931.pdf
Energy Information Administration (EIA)
US Government Agency - U.S. Dept. of Energy
Short-Term Energy Outlook World oil consumption ... http://www.eia.doe.gov/steo
Energy Information Administration (EIA)
US Government Agency - U.S. Dept. of Energy
EIA - Petroleum Basic Data U.S. Motor Gasoline Consumption. Share of US Oil Consumption for Transportation ... http://www.eia.doe.gov/basics/quickoil.html
Wikipedia - "World reserves are confused and in fact inflated. Many of the so called reserves are in fact resources.
They're not delineated, they're not accessible, they're not available for production"
Saudi Arabia - Sadad I. Al Husseini, former VP of Aramco, October 2007. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peak_oil
Most people have no idea of the enormity of the devastation caused by this
one oil spill alone. The adverse consequences are both staggering and
continuing, as this video documentary makes clear. _______
Another video documentary describing the enormity of the devastation caused
by this one oil spill alone, and the staggering, continuing adverse consequences
it continues to have on the Alaska region. _______
Scientist and Renowned Historian Naomi Oreskes: "Polls show that between one-third and one-half of Americans still believe that there is "no solid" evidence of global warming, or that if warming is happening it can be attributed to natural variability. Others believe that scientists are still debating the point. Join scientist and renowned historian Naomi Oreskes as she describes her investigation into the reasons for such widespread mistrust and misunderstanding of scientific consensus and probes the history of organized campaigns designed to create public doubt and confusion about science."
Exxon Mobil posts $40.6 billion annual profit Oil giant breaks record
for largest annual profit by a U.S. company LIVE QUOTE NAME LAST
CHANGE % CHANGE Exxon Mobil Corp 88.35 +0.22
+0.25% QUOTE LOOKUP Enter Company Symbol Lookup symbol
One of the most respected climatology experts in the World speaks on Global
"From the viewpoint of the science, the North Pole is just another point in
the globe, but it does have this symbolic meaning," Serreze said. "There's
supposed to be ice at the North Pole. The fact that we may not have any by the
end of this summer could be quite a symbolic change."
Serreze said it's "just another indicator of the disappearing Arctic sea
ice cover" but that it is happening so soon is "just astounding to me."
"Five years ago, to think that we'd even be talking about the possibility
of the North Pole melting out in the summer, I would have never thought it," he
The melting, however, has been long seen as inevitable, he said.
"If you talked to me or other scientists just a few years ago, we were
saying that we might lose all or most of the summer sea ice cover by anywhere
from 2050 to 2100," Serreze said. "Then, recently, we kind of revised those
estimates, maybe as early as 2030. Now, there's people out there saying it might
be even before that. So, things are happening pretty quick up there."
Serreze said those who suggest that the Arctic meltdown is just part of a
historic cycle are wrong.
"It's not cyclical at this point. I think we understand the physics behind
this pretty well," he said. "We've known for at least 30 years, from our
earliest climate models, that it's the Arctic where we'd see the first signs of
"It's a situation where we hate to say we told you so, but we told you so,"
Serreze said the Arctic sea ice will not be the same for decades.
"If we had a few cold years in a row, we could put sort of a temporary
damper on it, but I think at this point going to an ice-free Arctic Ocean is
inevitable," he said. "I don't think we can stop that now."
oil spill From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
During the first few days of the spill, heavy sheens of oil, such as the
sheen visible in this photograph, covered large areas of the surface of Prince
William Sound.The Exxon Valdez oil spill occurred in Prince William Sound,
Alaska, United States, on March 24, 1989. It is considered one of the most
devastating man-made environmental disasters ever to occur at sea. As
significant as the Exxon Valdez spill was, it ranks well down on the list of the
world's largest oil spills in terms of volume released. The region was
a habitat for salmon, sea otters, seals, and seabirds. The vessel spilled 10.8
million U.S. gallons (40.9 million liters) of Prudhoe Bay crude oil into the
sea, and the oil eventually covered 11,000 square miles (28,000 kmę) of
Contents [hide] 1 The accident 2 Cleanup measures and environmental
consequences 3 Litigation 4 The aftermath 5 Other consequences 6
External links 7 References
The accident The oil tanker Exxon Valdez departed the Valdez oil
terminal in Alaska at 9:12 pm on March 23, 1989 with 53 million U.S. gallons of
crude oil bound for Washington. A harbor pilot guided the ship through the
Valdez Narrows before departing the ship and returning control to Joseph
Hazelwood, the ship's master. The ship maneuvered out of the shipping lane to
avoid icebergs. Following the maneuver and sometime after 11 pm, Hazelwood
departed the wheel house and was in his stateroom at the time of the accident.
He left Third Mate Gregory Cousins in charge of the wheel house and Able Seaman
Robert Kagan at the helm with instructions to return to the shipping lane at a
prearranged point. Exxon Valdez failed to return to the shipping lanes and
struck Bligh Reef at around 12:04 am March 24, 1989.
Beginning three days after the vessel grounded, a storm pushed large
quantities of fresh oil onto the rocky shores of many of the beaches in the
Knight Island chain. In this photograph, pooled oil is shown stranded in the
rocks.According to official reports, the ship carried 53.1 million U.S.gallons
of oil, of which 10.8 million U.S.gallons (9.0 million imp gal/41 million L)
were spilled into the Prince William Sound. This figure has become the
consensus estimate of the spill's volume, as it has been accepted by the State
of Alaska's Exxon Valdez Oil Spill Trustee Council, the National Oceanic and
Atmospheric Administration, and environmental groups such as Greenpeace and
the Sierra Club. Some groups, such as Defenders of Wildlife, dispute the
official estimates, maintaining that the volume of the spill has been
Cleanup measures and environmental consequences
Workers using high-pressure, hot-water washing to clean an oiled
shoreline.The first cleanup response was through the use of a dispersant, a
surfactant and solvent mixture. A private company applied dispersant on 24 March
with a helicopter and dispersant bucket. Because there was not enough wave
action to mix the dispersant with the oil in the water, the use of the
dispersant was discontinued. One trial burn was also conducted during the early
stages of the spill, in a region of the spill isolated from the rest by a
fire-resistant boom. The test was relatively successful, reducing 113 400 litres
of oil to 1134 litres of removable residue, but because of unfavorable
weather no additional burning was attempted in this cleanup effort. Mechanical
cleanup was started shortly afterwards using booms and skimmers, but the
skimmers were not readily available during the first 24 hours following the
spill, and thick oil and kelp tended to clog the equipment.
Exxon was widely criticized for its slow response to cleaning up the
disaster and John Devens, the mayor of Valdez, has said his community felt
betrayed by Exxon's inadequate response to the crisis. Working with the
United States Coast Guard, which officially led the response, Exxon mounted a
cleanup effort that exceeded in cost, scope and thoroughness any previous oil
spill cleanup. More than 11,000 Alaska residents, along with some Exxon
employees, worked throughout the region to try to restore the environment.
Clean-up efforts after Exxon Valdez oil spill.Because Prince William
Sound contained many rocky coves where the oil collected, the decision was made
to displace it with high-pressure hot water. However, this also displaced and
destroyed the microbial populations on the shoreline; many of these organisms
(e.g. plankton) are the basis of the coastal marine food chain, and others (e.g.
certain bacteria and fungi) are capable of facilitating the biodegradation of
oil. At the time, both scientific advice and public pressure was to clean
everything, but since then, a much greater understanding of natural and
facilitated remediation processes has developed, due somewhat in part to the
opportunity presented for study by the Exxon Valdez spill. Despite the extensive
cleanup attempts, a study conducted by NOAA determined that as of early 2007
more than 26,000 U.S. gallons (22,000 imp gal/98,000 L) of oil remain in the
sandy soil of the contaminated shoreline, declining at a rate of less than 4%
In 1992, Exxon released a video titled Scientists and the Alaska Oil Spill.
It was provided to schools with the label "A Video for Students". Critics say
this video is reputed to misrepresent the clean-up process.
Wildlife was severely affected by the oil spill.Both the long- and
short-term effects of the oil spill have been studied comprehensively.
Thousands of animals died immediately; the best estimates include 250,000 to as
many as 500,000 seabirds, at least 1,000 sea otters, approximately 12 river
otters, 300 harbour seals, 250 bald eagles, and 22 orcas, as well as the
destruction of billions of salmon and herring eggs. Due to a thorough
cleanup, little visual evidence of the event remained in areas frequented by
humans just 1 year later. However, the effects of the spill continue to be felt
today. Overall reductions in population have been seen in various ocean animals,
including stunted growth in pink salmon populations. Sea otters and ducks
also showed higher death rates in following years, partially because they
ingested prey from contaminated soil and from ingestion of oil residues on hair
due to grooming.
Almost 15 years after the spill, a team of scientists at the University of
North Carolina found that the effects are lasting far longer than expected.
The team estimates some shoreline habitats may take up to 30 years to
recover. Exxon Mobil denies any concerns over this, stating that they
anticipated a remaining fraction that they assert will not cause any long-term
ecological impacts, according to the conclusions of 350 peer-reviewed
studies. However, a study from scientists from NOAA concluded that this
contamination can produce chronic low-level exposure, discourage subsistence
where the contamination is heavy, and decrease the "wilderness character" of the
Litigation This section documents a current
event. Information may change rapidly as the event progresses.
In 1994, in the case of Baker vs. Exxon, an Anchorage jury awarded $287
million for actual damages and $5 billion for punitive damages. The punitive
damages amount was equal to a single year's profit by Exxon at that time.
Exxon appealed the ruling, and the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals
ordered the original judge, Russel Holland, to reduce the punitive damages. On
December 6, 2002, the judge announced that he had reduced the damages to $4
billion, which he concluded was justified by the facts of the case and was not
grossly excessive. Exxon appealed again and the case returned to court to be
considered in light of a recent Supreme Court ruling in a similar case, which
caused Judge Holland to increase the punitive damages to $4.5 billion, plus
After more appeals, and oral arguments heard by the 9th Circuit Court of
Appeals on 27 January 2006, the damages award was cut to $2.5 billion on 22
December 2006. The court cited recent Supreme Court rulings relative to limits
on punitive damages.
Exxon appealed again. On 23 May 2007, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals
denied ExxonMobil's request for a third hearing and let stand its ruling that
Exxon owes $2.5 billion in punitive damages. Exxon then appealed to the Supreme
Court, which agreed to hear the case. On February 27, 2008, the Supreme
Court heard oral arguments for 90 minutes. Justice Samuel Alito, who owns
between $100,000 and $250,000 in Exxon stock, recused himself from the case.
In a decision issued June 25, 2008, Justice David Souter issued the judgement of
the court, vacating the $2.5 billion award and remanding the case back to a
lower court, finding that the damages were excessive with respect to maritime
common law. Exxon's actions were deemed "worse than negligent but less than
malicious." The judgement limits punitive damages to the compensatory
damages, which for this case were calculated as $507.5 million. Some
lawmakers, such as Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick J. Leahy, have
decried the ruling as "another in a line of cases where this Supreme Court has
misconstrued congressional intent to benefit large corporations."
Exxon recovered a significant portion of clean-up and legal expenses
through insurance claims and tax deductions for the loss of the Valdez.
Also, in 1991, Exxon made a quiet, separate financial settlement of damages with
a group of seafood producers known as the Seattle Seven for the disaster's
effect on the Alaskan seafood industry. The agreement granted $63.75 million to
the Seattle Seven, but stipulated that the seafood companies would have to repay
almost all of any punitive damages awarded in other civil proceedings. The $5
billion in punitive damages was awarded later, and the Seattle Seven's share
could have been as high as $750 million if the damages award had held. Other
plaintiffs have objected to this secret arrangement, and when it came to
light, Judge Holland ruled that Exxon should have told the jury at the start
that an agreement had already been made, so the jury would know exactly how much
Exxon would have to pay.
The aftermath The cause of the incident was investigated by the
National Transportation Safety Board, which identified the four following
factors as contributing to the grounding of the vessel:
The third mate failed to properly maneuver the vessel, possibly due to
fatigue and excessive workload. The master failed to provide navigation
watch, possibly due to impairment under the influence of alcohol. Exxon
Shipping Company failed to supervise the master and provide a rested and
sufficient crew for the Exxon Valdez. The United States Coast Guard failed to
provide an effective vessel traffic system. The Board made a number of
recommendations, such as changes to the work patterns of Exxon crew in order to
address the causes of the accident.
In response to the spill, the United States Congress passed the Oil
Pollution Act of 1990 (OPA). The legislation included a clause that prohibits
any vessel that, after March 22, 1989, has caused an oil spill of more than one
million U.S. gallons (3,800 m3) in any marine area, from operating in Prince
In April 1998, the company argued in a legal action against the Federal
government that the ship should be allowed back into Alaskan waters. Exxon
claimed OPA was effectively a bill of attainder, a regulation that was unfairly
directed at Exxon alone. In 2002, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled
against Exxon. As of 2002, OPA had prevented 18 ships from entering Prince
OPA also set a schedule for the gradual phase in of a double hull design,
providing an additional layer between the oil tanks and the ocean. While a
double hull would likely not have prevented the Valdez disaster, a Coast Guard
study estimated that it would have cut the amount of oil spilled by 60
The Exxon Valdez supertanker was towed to San Diego, arriving on July 10.
Repairs began on July 30. Approximately 1,600 short tons (1,500 metric tons) of
steel were removed and replaced. In June 1990 the tanker, renamed S/R
Mediterranean, left harbor after $30 million of repairs. It was still
sailing as of August 2007. The vessel is currently owned by SeaRiver Maritime, a
wholly owned subsidiary of ExxonMobil.
Other consequences The Oil, Chemical and Atomic Workers
International Union, representing approximately 40,000 workers nationwide,
announced opposition to drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR)
until Congress enacted a comprehensive national energy policy. In the aftermath
of the spill, Alaska governor Steve Cowper issued an executive order requiring
two tugboats to escort every loaded tanker from Valdez out through Prince
William Sound to Hinchinbrook Entrance. As the plan evolved in the 1990s, one of
the two routine tugboats was replaced with a 210 foot (64 m) Escort Response
Vehicle (ERV). The majority of tankers at Valdez are still single-hulled, but
Congress has enacted legislation requiring all tankers to be double-hulled by
In 1991, following the collapse of the local marine population
(particularly clams, herring, and seals) the Chugach Native American group went
Many of the real estate appraisal methods used to value contaminated
property and brownfields were developed as a result of and following the spill.
The use of survey research (e.g. contingent valuation and conjoint measurement)
became a well-accepted appraisal method as a result of the complex valuation
problems associated with contamination.
According to several studies funded by the state of Alaska, the spill had
both short- and long term economic effects. These included the loss of
recreational sports fisheries, reduced tourism, and an estimate of what
economists call "existence value," which is the value to the public of a
pristine Prince William Sound.
WikiScanner discovered changes made from within Exxon Mobil altering this
article's descriptions of the oil spill and down playing its