The Exxon Valdez tanker ran aground in the Prince William Sound on March 24th, 1989. Over the next three days, three-thousand miles of Alaska's coastline were coated with somewhere between 11 and 38 million gallons of crude oil. To give you a point of reference: had the spill occurred off the east coast of the 'Lower 48,' oil would have destroyed coastline from New York Harbor to Cape Canaveral.
All the communities along the coast--which depend on the Sound's fish populations for food, jobs, tourism, and work--were devastated. One such community was Cordova, Alaska where a good friend of mine, Dr. Riki Ott, was working as a commercial "fisherma'am" at the time of the spill. Riki, also a Marine Biologist, has spent the last 20 years of her life fighting for justice from Exxon, working to restore affected communities, and teaching about the dangers of oil and corporate power.
One of the videos she carries with her as she travels the country shows the lasting effects of the Exxon Valdez that still pollute Alaska's beaches today—nearly 20 years after the spill. Riki explained it to me like this, "We take students down to the beach, dig a hole somewhere, and pour water in." This is what that experiment looks like.
Riki's latest venture, as she explains in her book Not One Drop: Betrayal and Courage in the Wake of the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill, and as you've seen covered here on Huffington, is the 28th Amendment to the Constitution: The Separation of Corporation and State. Exxon would not have been able to evade justice for this devastation had it not had the same protections under the law as individual citizens.
For updates on the 28th Amendment movement, join the Facebook group.
To watch Riki explain her path to Marine Biology and activism, check out this interview.
J.S. McDougall is the head blogger at Chelsea Green -- a news site and book publisher covering the politics and practice of sustainability.
Follow J.S. McDougall on Twitter: www.twitter.com/jsmcdougall