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Thursday, July 31, 2008

Banner Quarter for Exxon, Not So Much for Justice

The Associated Foreign Press is reporting that it's been a fantastic few months for the ExxonMobil Corporation. On top of receiving a huge boon in the form of the Supreme Court’s recent decision to cut the amount of punitive damages it must pay for the notorious Valdez oil spill to just $500 million, the company is also reporting record profits this quarter: $11.68 billion. Yes, that’s $11.68 billion in just three months and coincidentally the largest profits ever recorded by an American company…ever. If that number seems insanely high to any of you, consider this: it reflects their net profits after they set almost $300 million aside to pay the reduced damages set by the Supreme Court’s decision.

Considering the clear hardships that ExxonMobil must be facing (record profits and all), we completely understand why they’d also be requesting reprieve from having to pay interest on its punitive damages. Never mind that the $500 million amount is just about 4% of this quarter’s profits alone, why on earth should they be punished further for their reckless behavior? Of course, one might think it unfair that by dragging the issue through the courts for almost 19 years, the mega-corporation has even further reduced the already dismal award by almost $400 million -- $500 million in 1989 would have been equivalent to over $880 million today. We wouldn’t want to put any undue burdens on poor big oil.

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