Carbon Neutral Energy Group: 20years on and the Exxon Valdez tanker oil spill case returns to court.

Over two decades after the supertanker struck a reef unleashing the U.S.’s worst tanker oil spill, a lingering legal battle returns to court.
March 3, 2011 - PRLog -- An unsettled claim lodged by the U.S. Justice Department and the state of Alaska for $92 million for what they claim is long–term environmental damage which was unexpected at the time of the supertanker’s running aground, will see the historic Exxon Valdez case heard in a U.S. District Court in Anchorage.

Carbon Neutral Energy Group has learned that the claim was lodged five years back under a special “reopener” provision of the U.S. administration’s 1991 civil settlement in which oil giant Exxon paid $900 million.

The money was paid by Exxon over ten years into a trust account which finances environmental restoration projects and scientific work.

However, Carbon Neutral Energy Group was told that ongoing environmental impact has led the federal and state governments to present the reopener bill to Exxon Mobil, Exxon Corp’s successor.

The money is likely to go to projects to address unanticipated damages, including high levels of crude lingering in Prince William Sound beaches, the government said in its 2006 filing.

To date, Exxon has not settled the bill and the governments have yet to take the matter to court.
However, an Alaskan environmentalist has now come forward seeking to convince a federal judge to force Exxon to pay the $92 million and an additional $23 million in interest.

Rick Steiner, retired University of Alaska marine science professor and long-time environmental activist who filed the motion, says there is more at stake than just the money which could be used to restore Prince William Sound, still suffering from the effects of the 11 million gallon spill.

This case will likely set a precedent for a possible legal settlement over the BP’s Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico or for any other major environmental disaster which may carry long-term but unforeseeable consequences Steiner said.

"If this reopener is not paid here and won't be, then how in good conscience can the governments and the public and the courts settle the case down in the Gulf using a similar reopener provision?" Carbon Neutral Energy Group believes Steiner told reporters.

Steiner has criticised the federal and state governments for being too passive over the claim, which he believes should be invoked to deal with long-lasting damages such as the collapse of fishing stocks.

"It's really pretty outrageous that they let this languish for so long," he said

And he has lashed out at Exxon for refusing to pay what he feels is a trifling sum compared to the company’s annual profits.

So far, neither that state or federal government has responded to Steiner’s effort with any court documents relating to his motion, but an ex-governor, Republican Frank Murkowski has sent a letter to the court in support of Steiner, Carbon Neutral Energy Group has learned.

"Alaska deserves closure on this issue after 22 years," the former senator, whose administration made the reopener claim in 2006, said in his letter.

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