10-30-07 by dugan
If you’d like to run a small meth lab on the open seas, away from national laws, ExxonMobil may have a high-paying job for you! That’s a reasonable intrpretation of the Supreme Court’s decision to accept Exxon’s appeal of its $2.5 billion in liability from the Exxon Valdez tanker crash (an amount already reduced by half from the original court award). The captain was known to Exxon to be a relapsed alcoholic. Even so, says Exxon, it shouldn’t be liable under maritime law because the company has a rule about onboard drinking, and there’s no liability if the captain broke that rule.
if you don’t want to run a meth lab, but have severely impaired eyesight, Exxon might find that acceptable as well in a tanker captain, as long as he doesn’t advertise it. That would give new meaning to "turning a blind eye." Or maybe you’d just like to smoke a joint to calm yourself when navigating rocky waters, as the Exxon Valdez was when it split open, spilling 11 million gallons of crude on fishing grounds and the Alaskan coast.
To all of that, Exxon argues "so what, we didn’t explicitly order it," and the ever more business-friendly Supreme Court somehow found merit in the argument.
The only bright spot is that Justice Samuel Alito, a Bush appointee who is proving himself entirely corporate-friendly, recused himself because he owns Exxon stock.
Exxon is surely offering congratulations to its lawyers, who include the husband of Mary Nichols, the chair of California’s Clean Air Resources Board. We hope Exxon’s reasoning is not a Nichols family ethic. Then again, Nichols didn’t immediately sell her own Exxon stock when she took the job, or even promise to recuse herself.
In a recent interview about her husband’s defense of Exxon, she said:
"I don’t view the companies that sell us the petroleum as being any more
evil than the companies that sell me chocolates. I eat more chocolate
than I want to, also."