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Lisa Napoli: It’s been almost 19 years since the Exxon Valdez oil spill, and after a series of appeals, the case finally makes its way to the Supreme Court today. Exxon says it’s already spent more than $3 billion to clean up the spill Marketplace’s Jeff Tyler says 33,000 plaintiffs disagree.
Jeff Tyler: Exxon’s legal team has already managed to cut punitive damages in half, reducing the penalty to $2.5 billion. But Exxon doesn’t even want to pay that. Company lawyers are expected to cite the Clean Water Act, which doesn’t allow punitive damages.
Robert Dillon is a correspondent with Oil Daily. He expects Exxon will also invoke an old piracy law, that says a ship’s owner is not liable for the actions of its crew.
Robert Dillon: What was originally a law passed to protect ship owners who might have privateers on their ships is now being used by the largest oil company in the U.S. to protect a captain who allegedly got drunk and left his post.
The herring industry has never recovered.
Tim Joyce, the mayor of Cordova, Alaska, says fishermen who had invested in expensive permits before the spill have been left high and dry.
Tim Joyce: That was their retirement. They had that value and that was their equity, if you will. And that’s gone away. They don’t have that anymore.
The Supreme Court’s decision is not expected before late spring.
I’m Jeff Tyler for Marketplace.
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