Washington Senators Upset Over Supreme Court Exxon Valdez Ruling - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Washington Senators Upset Over Supreme Court Exxon Valdez Ruling

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WASHINGTON - (AP & KNDU) Wednesday Washington State Senators expressed disappointment in the Supreme Court decision to cut the $2.5 billion punitive damages award in the 1989 Exxon Valdez disaster to $500 million.

The court ruled that victims of the worst oil spill in U.S. History may collect punitive damages from Exxon Mobil Corp., but not as much as a federal appeals court determined.

Exxon asked the high court to reject the punitive damages judgment, saying it already has spent $3.4 billion in response to the accident that fouled 1,200 miles of Alaska coastline.

A jury decided Exxon should pay $5 billion in punitive damages.  A federal appeals court cut that verdict in half.

Now the victims of the spill will only get a faction of what was being considered.

The massive spill happened in Alaska almost 20 years ago.  An Exxon Valdez supertanker ran aground and spilled 11 million gallons of oil in the water.

U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell issued a statement Wednesday calling their decision a disappointment.

She said the spill affected more than 5,000 people in Washington and those people will be short-changed out of getting the full compensation they deserve.

U.S. Senator Patty Murray issued a similar statement, calling the courts ruling an undeserved loss for the tens of thousand of families and business owners who were hurt by the Exxon Valdez disaster. 

Murray stated the Northwest fisheries and environment are still affected by the negligence and years of legal wrangling shouldn't allow them to fall short of their responsibility.