August 29, 2008
ExxonMobil agrees to pay most of the reduced Exxon Valdez damage award - about 3 % of its most recent quarterly profits
This week ExxonMobil and plaintiffs' lawyers in the Exxon Valdez case concluded a settlement to pay out most of the $507.5 million maximum damages award set by the U.S. Supreme Court in June. August 26, 2008 AK Daily news Exxon will pay $383.4 million to be distributed to 33,000 commercial fishermen and others who sued after the Exxon Valdez tanker spilled almost 11 million gallons of oil in Prince William Sound in 1989. Exxon continues to battle with plaintiffs over another $70 million and potential interest of $488 million on the Supreme Court judgment. The figures don't add up because ExxonMobil will reimburse itself $54 million -- the largest single payout -- under terms of a side agreement Exxon made in 1991with seven Seattle-based fish-processing companies. The $ 383.4 million payment represents roughly 3 % of $11.7 BILLION profits ExxonMobil garnered last quarter, the largest corporate profit ever gained in history. 7/31/08 AP report on ExxonMobil 2d quarter profits At this profit rate, ExxonMobil will pay roughly 8/10th of 1% of its annual profits. Oh, I'm sure that ExxonMobil is quaking in their boots about ever being so negligent again. The average American family would pay a larger fine (as a percentage of their take home income or even their total income) for tossing a gum wrapper out the window of a car. Litter fines What's the take home message of the Supreme Court....maybe litter fines are unconstitutionally excessive? They might actually deter littering by the likes of ExxonMobil! If ExxonMobil had been fined at the rate of $1000 per cubic foot (the Washington State fine for littering more than a cubic foot of litter), ExxonMobil would have owed $ 1.47 BILLION. Forgive me. I'm still a bit irritated by the Supreme Court's sense of justice in the damages case.
Palin hugs big oil, not bears
Gristmill reports the lowdown on Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, John McCain's VP pick:
...She has pushed to open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to drilling and to build a natural-gas pipeline from Alaska's North Slope, and earlier this year she sued the Interior Department over its decision to list the polar bear as a threatened species. Palin recently proposed eliminating Alaska's gas tax. She also recently opposed a statewide ballot initiative to prohibit or restrict new mining operations that could affect salmon in the state's streams and rivers.
[proposed caption for this picture from USFWS, "Mama, don't let your babies grow up to be Republicans."]
Palin has declined to join the Western Climate Initiative. Her husband is an oil production operator for BP on Alaska's North Slope. And Gristmill reports that Palin said earlier this week, "When I look every day, the big oil company's building is right out there next to me, and it's quite a reminder that we should have mutually beneficial relationships with the oil industry."
August 25, 2008
Hydrogen cars cross US (well....about 2/3 of it)
Planet Ark (link) reported that hydrogen cars from 9 manufacturers (Honda, GM, Toyota Motor Corp, Ford Motor Co, BMW AG, Daimler AG, Hyundai Motor Co, Nissan Motor Co, and Volkswagen AG) completed a US DOT backed cross-country trip from Portland, Maine, to Los Angeles. But, flatbed trucks carried the cars over stretches without hydrogen fueling stations including a long stretch from Missouri to New Mexico. There are about 60 hydrogen stations in the United States; only two are open to the public without prior arrangement.
Honda Motor Co has begun leasing about 200 FXC Clarity fuel-cell autos in Southern California and General Motors Corp is testing about 100 fuel-cell Chevy Equinox SUVs on the road. But those deployments, as well as the autos in the road tour, are experimental, since the technology is not ready for showrooms. Carmakers have spent billions on their development in hopes of capitalizing on a public desire to buy cleaner cars and a US push to reduce its dependence on foreign oil. However, the National Research Council indicates that, even in a best-case scenario, automakers will only sell about 2 million electric vehicles powered by hydrogen fuel cells by 2020.
The United States consumes about a quarter of the world's oil, and imports 70 percent of its crude. Cars and trucks consume 44 percent of oil used in the country and contribute about a fifth of the carbon dioxide emissions. CO2 makes up nearly 90 percent of US greenhouse gas emissions.
EPA Sued for Failure to Regulate CO2 in Oil Refinery NSPS
Planet Ark reports:
New York, California,
Connecticut, Delaware, Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire, New Mexico,
Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington, as well as the District
of Columbia and the City of New York, are suing
federal environmental regulators over greenhouse gas emissions from oil
refineries. The states and cities contend EPA violated the federal Clean Air Act by refusing to
issue new source performance standards to control global warming pollution emissions from oil refineries. States have also sued the EPA to require
it to regulate global warming emissions from power plants (2006 petition for review) and
protect the states' right to regulate pollution emissions from
automobiles. The suit was filed in the US Court of Appeals for the
D.C. Circuit. About 15 percent of US industrial emissions of
carbon dioxide come from crude refineries,
which burn oil as they make gasoline and jet fuel. The suit seeks to force the EPA to control oil refinery
emissions of greenhouse pollution and to order the agency to adopt the
standards. Planet Ark link NY AG's office link
Findlaw Environmental Law Case Summaries
ENVIRONMENTAL LAW CASES
• Ctr. for Biological Diversity v. Nat'l Highway Traffic Safety Admin.
• El Comite para el Bienestar de Earlimart v. Warmerdam
• James River Ins. Co. v. Ground Down Engineering, Inc.
• Sierra Club v. Envtl. Prot. Agency
U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, August 18, 2008
Ctr. for Biological Diversity v. Nat'l Highway Traffic Safety Admin., No. 06-71891
States' and public interest organizations' petition for review of a rule issued by the NHTSA setting corporate average fuel economy tandards for light trucks, including many SUVs and other vehicles, is granted where: 1) the rule is arbitrary and capricious, contrary to the Energy Policy and Conservation Act (EPCA) in its failure to monetize the value of carbon emissions, failure to set a backstop, failure to close an SUV loophole, and failure to set fuel economy standards for all vehicles in a particular weight class; and 2) an Environmental Assessment was inadequate under NEPA and petitioners raised a substantial question as to whether the rule may have a significant impact on the environment. (Substituted opinion) Read more...
U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, August 20, 2008
El Comite para el Bienestar de Earlimart v. Warmerdam, No. 06-16000, 06-16131
In a challenge under section 304 of the Clean Air Act (CAA) brought by a coalition of community organizations against California state officials responsible for designing and implementing a state air quality plan, challenging the process by which EPA approval of the plan was obtained and the final outcome of the approval process, summary judgment for plaintiff and a remedies order are reversed and vacated where, because section 304 of the CAA provides jurisdiction only to enforce an "emission standard or limitation," and because the challenged conduct did not implicate such a standard or limitation, the court was without jurisdiction to order a remedy. Read more...
U.S. 11th Circuit Court of Appeals, August 20, 2008
James River Ins. Co. v. Ground Down Engineering, Inc. , No. 07-13207
In plaintiff-insurer's claim seeking a declaratory judgment that it is not obligated to provide a legal defense to defendant-insured, dismissal of claim is vacated where: 1) district court erred in holding that the pollution exclusion does not apply; and 2) the pollution exclusion clearly covers the claims asserted against defendant. Read more...