I had heard recently that there is STILL OIL on Alaska’s beaches from the Exxon Valdez spill that happened twenty one years ago. So I decided to do some research and found this interview from “Democracy Now”, a daily TV/radio news program, hosted by Amy Goodman. The following is just part of an interview she had with Riki Ott, a community activist, marine toxicologist, and former commercial salmon fisher-woman and author of two books on the spill.
The reason I feel this interview is important to share with the masses is because of the issue of “corporations” having the same rights as a person. (being protected by law). She explains this in detail later, and I encourage you to think of what power is being given to corporations, and as long as they continue to have these same rights, justice will never be “for the people”.
Now with the oil spill off the coast of Louisiana, we will face yet many more years of litigation, which will of course not accomplish justice for the people, or animals that are now suffering (and will continue to suffer) because of this tragedy.
To read the complete interview, you may use this link:
A report marking the twentieth anniversary of the spill has found oil still persists in the region and, in some places, quote, “is nearly as toxic as it was a few weeks after the spill.” The report was put together by the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill Trustee Council, which oversaw restoration efforts. It states, quote, “At this rate, the remaining oil will take decades and possibly centuries to disappear entirely.”
Those ecosystem studies began in 1994, really too late for our trial. They didn’t get completed until about 2004—I’m talking about published papers now. And those studies show, sure enough, the oil that’s remaining on our beaches is still causing harm
AMY GOODMAN: Let me see. You have brought a little jar. This is Exxon Valdez oil, Smith Island, Prince William Sound. This is one year ago. This is not from—
RIKI OTT: This is July 2nd last year, not even a year.
AMY GOODMAN: This is astounding.
RIKI OTT: That’s what we think, too. I take children out on the beaches now who were born after the spill and say, “This is your legacy.”
AMY GOODMAN: It’s just covered in oil.
RIKI OTT: The oil specifically is polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, PAHs. This is actually coming out the tailpipes of our automobiles. It’s the fine soot. That’s kind of the codeword for it. And this is linked with genetic harm, not only in animals, but in people, as well, respiratory harm, reproductive impairment, cancers. Very low levels of this oil, these PAHs, cause incredible harm to people.
AMY GOODMAN: You’ve said that is not just an environmental disaster, but a crisis in democracy.
RIKI OTT: It is a democracy crisis. The question we started asking as our lawsuit went on and on and on, and we didn’t get paid, was how did corporations get this big, where they can manipulate the legal system, the political system? What happened here? And I thought that was a really good question, so I went to answer it. And that became the final chapter of Not One Drop.
And I learned from other people’s work that there’s actually two ways to amend the Constitution. One is formally, through people-made law, which we’ve done twenty-seven times. And one is informally, through what Thomas Jefferson called the engine of consolidation, the federal judiciary, the Supreme Court.
And in 1886, the Supreme Court made sort of a seminal decision, where it granted a railroad corporation equal protection under the Fourteenth Amendment, which is, of course, a civil rights amendment for due process and equal protection for African American men. For the first forty years after that passed, there were 307 lawsuits brought, nineteen by African American men, the rest by corporations.
And at that point, when the Fourteenth Amendment passed to corporations, this thing called a corporate person arose. And that corporate person, in the eyes of the law, is able to access our rights, human rights, the Bill of Rights, constitutional protections. This is wrong. The word “corporation” never appears in the Constitution or the Bill of Rights. This is how we’ve lost freedom of speech. We still—we, as people, still have the First Amendment, but so do corporations. Free speech equals money. Those with more money have more speech. Pretty simple. So I began to understand that the legal system is broken. The election process is broken, all because of the same reason, this corporate personhood.
AMY GOODMAN: Riki Ott, I want to thank you for being with us. She has written the book Not One Drop: Betrayal and Courage in the Wake of the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill. I thank you for joining us.
RIKI OTT: Thank you. And I’m advocating the Twenty-Eighth Amendment to strip corporations of human rights. Thank you.
Gray Whale photo: (John Gaps III / AP)
Worker photo: latimesblogs.latimes.com/…/03/09/valdez.jpg
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