Alaska Governor Responds to Exxon Valdez Decision

Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin on June 25 said she was "extremely disappointed" that the U.S. Supreme Court decided that plaintiffs in the Exxon Valdez case would be awarded $507.5 million, or about 10 percent of the jury's original award.

"While the decision brings some degree of closure to Alaskans suffering from 19 years of litigation and delay, the Court gutted the jury's decision on punitive damages," she said, adding, "It is tragic that so many Alaska fishermen and their families have had their lives put on hold waiting for this decision. My heart goes out to those affected, especially the families of the thousands of Alaskans who passed away while waiting for justice."

Palin noted that the decision undercut one of the principal legs of deterrence for those engaged in maritime shipping in Alaska waters. She called on state and federal agencies to be vigilant and firm in regulating such activities.

Considered one of the worst oil spills in the world, the Exxon Valdez disaster spilled approximately 11 million gallons of crude oil into Prince William Sound on March 24, 1989. The oil fouled an estimated 1,300 miles of Alaska coastline. The spill killed hundreds of thousands of birds and animals, despoiled the environment, and deprived thousands of fishermen and subsistence users of their livelihoods.

Denby Lloyd, commissioner of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, says the impacts of the oil spill on marine life continue to be felt today.

"The fish and wildlife, as well as the people, of Alaska and Prince William Sound are still feeling the harmful effects of Exxon's actions to this date," said Lloyd. "It will be years more before they fully recover from this tragedy."

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