Alaska's Congressional Delegation Files Supreme Court Brief in Support of Exxon Valdez Oil Spill Victims

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Alaska’s Congressional Delegation, Senator Ted Stevens, Senator Lisa Murkowski, and Congressman Don Young, today filed an amicus brief to the U.S. Supreme Court in support of the victims of the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill in the case Exxon Shipping Co. and Exxon Mobil Corp. v. Grant Baker, et al.

In the brief, the Delegation discusses the origins and legislative history of the Clean Water Act (CWA), the federal law that is central to the controversy. The brief incorporates law from Supreme Court cases and other federal decisions, as well as authority from Congressional records and academic sources. The Delegation contends that the punitive damages awarded to those affected by the spill are legally protected under maritime law as well as CWA, a conclusion that directly contradicts Exxon’s arguments.

“Justice for the victims of the Exxon Valdez oil spill is long overdue,” said Senator Stevens. “By filing this brief today, the Congressional Delegation reaffirms our support for the thousands of Alaskans who have been so adversely impacted by this disaster. This has been a struggle for nearly two decades and we hope the Supreme Court closes this unfortunate chapter in Alaska’s history by ruling for the plaintiffs.”

“It is deplorable that nearly 20 years after the Exxon Valdez oil spill 20,000 Alaskans are still without justice,” said Senator Murkowski. “I sincerely hope that the Court will rule in favor of the many fishermen and communities whose livelihoods were damaged by this tragic event.”

“I am pleased to be a part of this amicus curiae brief with Senators Stevens and Murkowski and working in support of the Governor,” said Congressman Young. “It is in Alaska’s interest to see justice completed for the 20,000 Alaskan commercial fishermen, cannery workers, landowners, and Natives impacted by this horrendous spill. It is my hope that the Supreme Court will listen with open ears to both sides of the case and make a determination that favors those whose lives and livelihoods were so deeply impacted by this tragic accident.”

Senators Stevens, Senator Murkowski, and Congressman Young each bring a unique perspective to this case. Senator Stevens is a member of the Bar of the Supreme Court and was an active participant in the drafting and passage of the Clean Water Act in the 1970s. Senator Murkowski is the only member of Congress born in Alaska and has the experience of living in a fishing community in the State. Representative Young has a long history of championing federal marine legislation and is the only licensed mariner in Congress. He also is the former Chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, the panel with jurisdiction over the Clean Water Act.

In keeping with Supreme Court practices, the Delegation will not release the submitted brief until the Court has posted it on the docket.