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HJR 42: Requesting Exxon Mobil Corporation to pay claimants for court-ordered damages resulting from the Exxon Valdez oil spill.

00                       HOUSE JOINT RESOLUTION NO. 42                                                                     
01 Requesting Exxon Mobil Corporation to pay claimants for court-ordered damages resulting                                 
02 from the Exxon Valdez oil spill.                                                                                        
03 BE IT RESOLVED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF ALASKA:                                                               
04       WHEREAS, on March 24, 1989, at 12:04 a.m., the oil tanker Exxon Valdez grounded                               
05 on Bligh Reef in Prince William Sound resulting in a spill of 11,000,000 gallons of North                               
06 Slope crude oil along Alaska's shoreline; and                                                                           
07       WHEREAS, immediately following the spill, executives of Exxon Corporation                                       
08 promised the residents of the state that they would make Alaska whole again; and                                        
09       WHEREAS the oil spill killed or affected seabirds, sea otters, harbor seals, bald                               
10 eagles, killer whales, salmon and herring eggs, and many tidal plants and animals, and has                              
11 caused long-term damage to the environment of Prince William Sound; and                                                 
12       WHEREAS the oil spill affected many communities; commercial, subsistence, and                                   
13 sport fishermen; tourism operators; subsistence gatherers; large and small businesses; and                              
14 others in the area; and                                                                                                 
15       WHEREAS, on September 16, 1994, an Alaska jury in the federal district court                                    
16 returned verdicts against Exxon Corporation to help compensate those affected by the spill;                             
01 the verdicts provided for payment of damages in the amount of nearly $5,300,000,000, of                                 
02 which $5,000,000,000 represents an award of punitive damages; and                                                       
03       WHEREAS, between 1994 and 1996, the federal district court judge denied numerous                                
04 motions by Exxon Corporation to overturn or adjust the verdicts, and the corporation                                    
05 continues to file motions that delay settlement of the case; and                                                        
06       WHEREAS, between 1996 and today, Exxon Corporation filed two motions for new                                    
07 trials that were denied by the federal court; and                                                                       
08       WHEREAS, in November 2001, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth                                     
09 Circuit issued an opinion concluding that the punitive damages decision of the trial court was                          
10 excessive, and directing a review; and                                                                                  
11       WHEREAS, in December 2002, the trial court reduced the punitive damages award                                   
12 to $4,000,000,000; and                                                                                                  
13       WHEREAS, following a second appeal by Exxon Mobil Corporation, the United                                       
14 States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit again found the trial court's punitive damage                             
15 award excessive and ordered a reconsideration in light of an intervening United States                                  
16 Supreme Court decision setting out a mechanism by which to calculate punitive damages                                   
17 based on actual damages; and                                                                                            
18       WHEREAS the trial court has now ordered Exxon Mobil Corporation to pay                                          
19 $4,500,000,000 in punitive damages and another $2,250,000,000 in interest, with the                                     
20 defendant indicating that it would file a further appeal in the United States Court of Appeals                          
21 for the Ninth Circuit; and                                                                                              
22       WHEREAS Exxon Mobil Corporation has been paying for research projects                                           
23 challenging the competency of juries to fairly set punitive damages and cites these results in                          
24 its appeal; and                                                                                                         
25       WHEREAS Exxon Corporation has prospered financially in the 15 years since the oil                               
26 spill and has merged with Mobil Corporation to create the largest corporation in the world,                             
27 recording $21,510,000,000 in corporate profits during fiscal year 2003; and                                             
28       WHEREAS, 15 years after the oil spill and nearly 10 years after the damage                                      
29 judgment, 32,000 claimants are still waiting for payment of compensatory and punitive                                   
30 damages; 1,200 claimants have died since 1989; and                                                                      
31       WHEREAS the majority of the claimants who are owed compensatory and punitive                                    
01 damages are working men and women with families, homes, mortgages, and financial                                        
02 obligations; and                                                                                                        
03       WHEREAS the petroleum industry plays a vital role in providing revenue,                                         
04 employment, and economic stability for the state; and                                                                   
05       WHEREAS the Alaska State Legislature has encouraged development of the                                          
06 petroleum industry through incentives and partnerships; and                                                             
07       WHEREAS Governor Murkowski has called upon Exxon Mobil Corporation to settle                                    
08 this suit; and                                                                                                          
09       WHEREAS, in order to foster partnerships between Exxon Mobil Corporation and                                    
10 the people of Alaska, Exxon Mobil Corporation must make good on its promise to make                                     
11 Alaska whole again, and pay its debt to the people of Alaska as prescribed by the court.                                
12       BE IT RESOLVED that the Alaska State Legislature urges the Exxon Mobil                                          
13 Corporation to immediately pay the compensatory damages awarded in the court-ordered                                    
14 judgment, and to pay the punitive damages, without further delay or appeal; and be it                                   
15       FURTHER RESOLVED that the Alaska State Legislature urges the governor not to                                    
16 entertain any proposal to negotiate draft contracts under the Alaska Stranded Gas                                       
17 Development Act pertaining to North Slope stranded gas until Exxon Mobil Corporation pays                               
18 the punitive damages awarded in the judgment handed down by Judge Russel Holland on                                     
19 December 28, 2003.                                                                                                      
20       COPIES of this resolution shall be sent to the Honorable George W. Bush, President                              
21 of the United States; the Honorable Richard B. Cheney, Vice-President of the United States                              
22 and President of the U.S. Senate; the Honorable John Ashcroft, Attorney General of the                                  
23 United States; the Honorable J. Dennis Hastert, Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives;                           
24 the Honorable Bill Frist, Majority Leader of the U.S. Senate; Timothy J. Muris, Chairman of                             
25 the Federal Trade Commission; Susan Creighton, Director, Bureau of Competition, Federal                                 
26 Trade Commission; the Honorable Ted Stevens and the Honorable Lisa Murkowski, U.S.                                      
27 Senators, and the Honorable Don Young, U.S. Representative, members of the Alaska                                       
28 delegation in Congress; and Lee R. Raymond, Chairman, Chief Executive Officer, and                                      
29 President of Exxon Mobil Corporation.