Legislature(2005 - 2006)SENATE FINANCE 532

03/30/2005 01:00 PM RESOURCES

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* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
Heard & Held
Moved CSHB 198(RES) Out of Committee
Moved Out of Committee
Scheduled But Not Heard
Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled
HJR  9-URGE CONGRESS HONOR EXXON VALDEZ JUDGMENT                                                                              
CO-CHAIR  SAMUELS  announced that  the  first  order of  business                                                               
would be HOUSE JOINT RESOLUTION NO.  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.                                                                                                 
SUZANNE  HANCOCK,  Staff   to  Representative  Gabrielle  LeDoux,                                                               
Alaska  State Legislature,  said HJR  9 urges  the United  States                                                               
Congress to  respect the  judicial process  and refrain  from any                                                               
action to  alter the punitive  damage awards to more  than 32,000                                                               
plaintiffs as a  result of the 1989 Exxon Valdez  oil spill.  She                                                               
noted that after  16 years, the plaintiffs are  still waiting for                                                               
resolution  of the  lawsuit.   When Congress  considered the  Oil                                                               
Pollution  Act  of  1990,  Exxon   Mobil  Corporation  sought  an                                                               
amendment  that would  have  substantially  reduced the  punitive                                                               
damages  that would  have been  paid  from the  Exxon Valdez  oil                                                               
spill.    This resolution  allows  the  courts to  determine  the                                                               
matter, she concluded.                                                                                                          
1:10:38 PM                                                                                                                    
MATT JAMIN,  Attorney for the  Plaintiffs, Kodiak,  said Congress                                                               
is passing bills  very quickly without public  input, and current                                                               
members of  Congress are  concerned about  class action  and tort                                                               
litigation.   It  is possible,  he said,  that legislation  could                                                               
retroactively alter  the Exxon  Valdez punitive  award case.   He                                                               
said he supports the resolution.                                                                                                
1:12:22 PM                                                                                                                    
MICHAEL  MAXWELL,  Commercial  Fisherman, Cordova,  said  he  has                                                               
fished and repaired  nets since he was a child.   "Our lives were                                                               
drastically  changed when  the  Exxon Valdez  ran  aground."   He                                                               
noted the  Prince William Sound  herring fisheries  were "totally                                                               
wiped out," losing a huge  portion of his livelihood.  "Fisherman                                                               
who had $500,000  boats sold them for pennies on  the dollar," he                                                               
added.  In Cordova there are  $30,000 nets stacked up and unused.                                                               
He  said  he has  lost  health  insurance  and has  many  medical                                                               
problems.   The community had  a fundraising benefit to  help pay                                                               
for  his medical  needs.   The spill  took livelihoods  away from                                                               
many, and he  asked, "Where is the help from  our politicians and                                                               
government?   Our  court system  has  failed us."   He  suggested                                                               
forbidding Exxon  from drilling  on the Arctic  National Wildlife                                                               
Refuge.     "How  about  laws   quadrupling  verdicts   of  large                                                               
corporations  for using  their great  influence  to stifle  court                                                               
proceedings?"  he asked,  "Where's  the help?"    He accused  the                                                               
legislature of  doing nothing.   "While Exxon makes  millions, we                                                               
go broke," he said.  "You  people are all in Exxon's pockets," he                                                               
said.  His daughter was  2-years-old when the spill happened, and                                                               
she will  graduate from high school  this spring, he noted.   "My                                                               
biggest dream was  to send her to a good  school, and, hopefully,                                                               
one of these days  I will be able to do it.   Please help us," he                                                               
1:16:36 PM                                                                                                                    
ROXY ESTES,  Cordova, said the  Exxon Valdez oil  spill destroyed                                                               
her  life, and  forced  her  children to  move  away.   She  said                                                               
putting a  cap on damage awards  is ludicrous.  "The  damage done                                                               
is beyond words."   Big oil has  had their way, she  said, and it                                                               
bulldozed right  over locals with  no one in the  political arena                                                               
willing to stand  up for them.  No one  has been held accountable                                                               
for  the  lives  destroyed,  she  said.    She  stated,  "Exxon's                                                               
excellent   p.r.  campaign   has   been  enormously   successful.                                                               
Everyone worldwide  thinks Prince William  Sound is fine.   It is                                                               
not.  It  probably never will be again."   Elected officials need                                                               
to  represent the  people  who  put them  in  office, she  added.                                                               
"Stand up for the little guy."                                                                                                  
1:18:41 PM                                                                                                                    
DOLLIE  SCOTT, Cordova,  said herring,  crab and  everything that                                                               
was fished  has gone  downhill.   She said  if the  damage claims                                                               
aren't settled,  it is an  invitation to do  it again.   She said                                                               
all the fishermen fought against  having the pipeline come out of                                                               
Valdez.    She  said  the  community could  have  lived  with  an                                                               
accident due to a storm, but "it was a drunken accident."                                                                       
1:19:54 PM                                                                                                                    
MICHAEL SCOTT,  Fisherman, Cordova, said people  think that Exxon                                                               
has  paid all  that is  due, "but  nothing has  been paid  to the                                                               
fisherman."   He  suggested  that  they pay  before  they can  do                                                               
business in the state.                                                                                                          
1:20:57 PM                                                                                                                    
DIANE  PLATT,   Cordova  District  Fishermen  United,   said  her                                                               
organization  represents over  900 commercial  fishermen in  area                                                               
(E).   She noted that  many of them  have been devastated  by the                                                               
oil spill, and  she encourages any attempt to  get the plaintiffs                                                               
the settlements they have been waiting for.                                                                                     
1:21:37 PM                                                                                                                    
STEVE  SMITH, Commercial  Fisherman,  Cordova, said  half of  his                                                               
income was  from herring fishing,  which is  now gone.   He noted                                                               
that nothing indicates  it is coming back.  He  said the case has                                                               
been going  on longer than  is reasonable.   "Exxon has a  lot of                                                               
money;  they  don't mind  spending  it  on their  attorneys,  and                                                               
they're very  reluctant to  go ahead  and pay  the bill  that the                                                               
courts  and juries  have deemed  we have  coming."   He concluded                                                               
that justice delayed is not really justice.                                                                                     
1:22:41 PM                                                                                                                    
JERRY  MCCUNE, United  Fishermen  of Alaska,  Juneau, said  there                                                               
have been  several attempts by  Exxon to get legislation  to free                                                               
them  of  punitive  damages.    "They're  on  constant  watch  in                                                               
Washington D.C.," he said.   The resolution urges Congress not to                                                               
allow any legislation to get Exxon out of their duty.                                                                           
1:23:47 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE ELKINS  moved to  pass HJR  9 from  committee with                                                               
individual  recommendations.   There  being no  objection, HJR  9                                                               
passed from the House Resources Standing Committee.                                                                             

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