Enrolled HJR 9: Urging the United States Congress to honor the process and judgment of the federal courts in the case of the Exxon Valdez disaster and to refrain from enacting legislation that would affect the outcome of the courts' resolution of the case; urging the United States Department of Justice and the Alaska Department of Law to identify all natural resource damages from the Exxon Valdez oil spill that were unanticipated at the time of the 1991 settlement, to develop plans to remedy the damages, and to present the ExxonMobil Corporation with a request for the full $100,000,000 that is available through the "Reopener for Unknown Injury" clause of the 1991 civil settlement to carry out these plans.
00Enrolled HJR 9 01 Urging the United States Congress to honor the process and judgment of the federal courts in 02 the case of the Exxon Valdez disaster and to refrain from enacting legislation that would 03 affect the outcome of the courts' resolution of the case; urging the United States Department 04 of Justice and the Alaska Department of Law to identify all natural resource damages from the 05 Exxon Valdez oil spill that were unanticipated at the time of the 1991 settlement, to develop 06 plans to remedy the damages, and to present the ExxonMobil Corporation with a request for 07 the full $100,000,000 that is available through the "Reopener for Unknown Injury" clause of 08 the 1991 civil settlement to carry out these plans. 09 _______________ 10 BE IT RESOLVED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF ALASKA: 11 WHEREAS, on March 24, 1989, the Exxon Valdez ran aground on Bligh Reef in 12 Prince William Sound, Alaska, spilling more than 11,000,000 gallons of crude oil and 13 becoming what President George H. W. Bush called "the worst marine environmental disaster
01 this nation has ever experienced"; and 02 WHEREAS the grounding and spill released oil across more than 10,000 square miles 03 of Alaska's coastal oceans and 1,300 miles of shoreline, including five state parks, four state 04 critical habitat areas, one state game sanctuary, and many Alaska Native ancestral lands; the 05 spilled oil killed hundreds of thousands of birds, marine mammals, fish, and invertebrates; 06 and the grounding and spill seriously disrupted the economy, culture, and livelihoods of 07 coastal residents; and 08 WHEREAS, on October 9, 1991, the United States District Court for Alaska in 09 Anchorage approved a settlement (Civil Actions No. A91-082 and A91-083) between Exxon 10 Corporation, the United States of America, and the State of Alaska for damages to natural 11 resources, including publicly owned wildlife and wild lands, from the Exxon Valdez oil spill; 12 and 13 WHEREAS this settlement includes a clause that provides for a "Reopener for 14 Unknown Injury," which states that the governments may, between September 1, 2002, and 15 September 1, 2006, request that the ExxonMobil Corporation pay additional sums as needed, 16 up to $100,000,000, to restore oil-damaged populations, habitats, or species in the spill zone if 17 the injury could not reasonably have been known nor anticipated at the time of the settlement; 18 and 19 WHEREAS this provision was a key factor in addressing the uncertainty of the 20 public, the Alaska State Legislature, the United States Congress, the State of Alaska, and the 21 United States District Court regarding the potential for future damages and, therefore, in 22 winning approval of this settlement; and 23 WHEREAS, in September 1994, a unanimous jury of Alaskans found Exxon 24 Corporation liable for the Exxon Valdez oil spill and awarded damages of $5.3 billion to 25 those injured by the spill, including punitive damages in the amount of $5 billion; and 26 WHEREAS, 17 years after the disaster, and nearly 12 years after the original jury 27 verdict, the victims are still awaiting resolution of the litigation; and 28 WHEREAS the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals is currently reviewing the latest 29 appeal of the damages order by Exxon Mobil Corporation and is expected to issue its decision 30 sometime later this year; and 31 WHEREAS, during consideration by the United States Congress of the Oil Pollution
01 Act of 1990, Exxon Mobil Corporation sought an amendment that would have substantially 02 reduced the punitive damages that it would have to pay for the Exxon Valdez oil spill; 03 WHEREAS scientists funded through the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill Trustee Council 04 and by federal and state agencies, universities, and private foundations have clearly and 05 conclusively demonstrated substantial long-term harm from the Exxon Valdez oil spill; their 06 findings include evidence of direct and indirect harm to native species, coastlines, and the 07 peoples of the spill zone; and 08 WHEREAS all of these long-term damages from oil were unanticipated at the time of 09 the 1991 settlement because of the complexity of the intertidal spill zone environment, the 10 unexpected persistence of subsurface oil, species decline that did not become manifest until 11 after the settlement, and increased modern scientific recognition of the toxicity of oil to 12 wildlife; and 13 WHEREAS there exist many cost-effective restoration opportunities to mitigate these 14 unanticipated injuries; and 15 WHEREAS the governments are required to submit detailed plans for use of reopener 16 funds 90 days before a formal request to ExxonMobil Corporation, and the last day on which 17 the governments may make those requests is September 1, 2006; and 18 WHEREAS it is clearly in the interest of the citizens of Alaska that the governments 19 assert this claim for full payment for the additional damages from the Exxon Valdez oil spill; 20 BE IT RESOLVED that the Alaska State Legislature respectfully urges that the 21 United States Congress respect the judicial process and refrain from enacting any legislation 22 that would reduce or delay payment of the punitive damages awarded to more than 32,000 23 plaintiffs as a result of the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill as finally determined by the federal 24 courts; and be it 25 FURTHER RESOLVED that the Alaska State Legislature urges the United States 26 Department of Justice and the Alaska Department of Law to identify all natural resource 27 damages from the Exxon Valdez oil spill that were unanticipated at the time of the settlement, 28 to develop plans to remedy the damages, and to present the ExxonMobil Corporation with a 29 request for the full $100,000,000 available under the reopener clause to enact these plans; and 30 be it 31 FURTHER RESOLVED that the Attorney General of the State of Alaska or the
01 Attorney General of the United States report to the Alaska State Legislature on or before 02 June 2, 2006, on the status of the governments' claim for reopener damages. 03 COPIES of this resolution shall be sent to the Honorable George W. Bush, President 04 of the United States; the Honorable Richard B. Cheney, Vice-President of the United States 05 and President of the U.S. Senate; the Honorable Bill Frist, Majority Leader of the U.S. Senate; 06 the Honorable Harry Reid, Minority Leader of the U.S. Senate; the Honorable J. Dennis 07 Hastert, Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives; the Honorable John Boehner, Majority 08 Leader of the U.S. House of Representatives; the Honorable Nancy Pelosi, Minority Leader of 09 the U.S. House of Representatives; the Honorable Alberto Gonzales, Attorney General of the 10 United States; the Honorable David W. Marquez, Alaska Attorney General; and the 11 Honorable Ted Stevens and the Honorable Lisa Murkowski, U.S. Senators, and the Honorable 12 Don Young, U.S. Representative, members of the Alaska delegation in Congress.