Exxon Stalled Info on Yellowstone Oil Spill Exxon has been accused of delaying reporting the oil spill, the amount of oil spilled and attempting to cover their tracks before the public knew about their pipeline spill in the Yellowstone River.
Keith Olbermann analyzes the tricks used by oil companies and the report that the oil pipeline was badly corroded in this clip from Current TV.
Over 2.3 million miles of crude oil pipeline of both oil and gas exist in the US and only 40 percent of these lines are checked and only every 5 years. This is a disastrous policy that invites more oil spills in a reckless ignorance of what oil spills do, the US government has gone soft on big oil with regulations.
Kate Sheppard a Countdown Contributor gives some hard facts on why the US government agency is not doing enough to protect lands and water from pipeline oil spills and disasters such as BP, Exxon and other big oil companies that get not only tax breaks, but who are not maintaining, renewing or replacing old pipelines. BP Oil has another spill in their pipelines which were corroded and had been perforated in Alaska before the Gulf Oil Spill.
Whistle blowers that worked at BP advised that the company ignored calls to replace or repair broken oil pipelines, in a method of increasing profits while ignoring safety standards.
This oil spill is just another example of how much big oil lobbyists get away with and how politicians do not require the fulfillment of environmental laws including safety standards.
Exxon said the pipeline only spilled oil for six minutes but it was actually an hour before the line was shut down. Olbermann points out this is a pattern when lawsuits can mean billions of dollars of their reports to paint a minimalistic report that the spills are “not all that bad”. Exxon also sent out conflicting reports regarding how far the oil was traveling on the river which is at flood stage and moving quicker than normal.
First Exxon reported the oil was only spilled in a 10 mile radius while other reports said it was as far 240 miles away. The fact that Exxon is not reporting what caused this spill means it most likely was a rusted old pipe that should have been replaced 10 years ago. There were red flags about the age and condition of the pipeline in this particular stretch in the state of Montana.
Exxon is even disputing that it is not “legally liable to clean up all the oil spill” which outrages the Governor and the people of Montana.
History of Exxon Oil Spills- The Exxon Valdez- 1989 Largest Oil Spill in the World
Back on March 24, 1989 Exxon smashed an oil tanker on the Alaska shoreline spilling 750,000 barrels of crude oil which was the largest oil spill in history before the BP Oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Now, 22 years later the effects of that oil spill on businesses, wildlife, economy, fisheries, sea animals can still be felt. The cause of the accident: Exxon hired a drunken, alcoholic Captain that ran the ship aground which was their responsibility.
At that time Exxon downplayed the amount of oil that tanker was holding which was 55 million gallons. The courts accepted Exxon’s estimate at only 11 million gallons which was disputed by environmental groups like Greenpeace and the Sierra Club.
Exxon’s History of Escaping Liability in Oil Spills-The Exxon Valdez Judgments
Exxon fought tooth and nail to reduce their financial costs and liability in the spill by various means in and outside the courtroom. The judges were lenient at that time and instead of the 5 billion dollars awarded by a jury for punitive damages, an appeal the amount was lowered to 4 billion. After more appeals, the 4 billion was reduced to 2.5 billion and the case went to the Supreme Court of the United States. In 2008, Justice Souter vacated the 2.5 billion and returned the suit to the lower court stating the damages were excessive. (Again taking the side of the corporations).
Exxon’s official statements indicated that their should be a limit to punitive damages, since it was an accident. A group of Alaska seafood companies made a deal with Exxon for 63.7 million dollars, which had to be later returned due to a reversal of all the appeals Exxon put forth in the major lawsuit and the reductions by the courts.
In any case the oil still records toxicity in the area of the spill some twenty years later and Exxon still owes money on restoring the area of another 92 million dollars. The actual jury amount was an additional 287 million dollars for actual damages, which today would be considerably higher.
While BP is also disputing its damages in the Gulf Oil spill, they have initiated counter lawsuits against Horizon who owned the oil rig and Halliburton who performed the cementing of the oil cap in 2010.
The facts are that oil spills do not simply “go away” or are somehow absorbed by the oceans, rivers and land we live in and around. The oil stays for generations to come and the oil spillers must be held totally responsible for their clean up.
Better still are more inspections of pipelines by new environmental laws, more updated pipelines and higher standards of the oil industry itself to ensure these disasters do not continue to pile up due to negligence and the almighty buck.