U.S. Supreme Court to view West Seattle photographer’s work

fobesice.jpgHard to believe that the Exxon Valdez oil-spill case is not over yet, 19 years after the tanker catastrophe that soiled Alaska’s Prince William Sound and ravaged its wildlife. But today, U.S. Supreme Court justices hear oral arguments in one ongoing case — Exxon is arguing that it should not have to pay punitive damages to more than 30,000 people affected by the spill — and a West Seattle photojournalist’s work will be part of the plaintiffs’ exhibit. Natalie Fobes (shown left while on assignment in Siberia) was one of the first photojournalists on the scene; she got there the day after the spill. She says she “hitch-hiked her way around (Prince William) Sound on fishing boats and mail planes while many photographers and journalists were stuck in Valdez waiting for a plane or helicopter charter,” spending the next few months documenting the devastation as she lived with fishermen, Native Alaskan families, and cleanup workers. Fobes testified in person at some of the earlier trials. You can see some of her photos at Fobes’ website here. She says, “I got into photojournalism to make a difference. To have my photographs included in one of the largest environmental cases ever argued before the Supreme Court is amazing.”

11 Replies to "U.S. Supreme Court to view West Seattle photographer's work"

  • Christopher Boffoli February 27, 2008 (8:24 am)

    Actually, this isn’t the only part of that case that is still open. In 2006 University of Washington Law professor and environmental law pioneer Bill Rodgers filed suit in the 9th Circuit Court for a $100 million “re-opener” clause which seeks to compensate First Nations tribes who were most affected by the spill but who were largely left out of the original settlement. There is a summary of the accident and clean-up and information about that case on this West Seattlite’s blog: http://cellardoor.typepad.com/my_weblog/2005/12/reopening_the_e.html

  • Venkat February 27, 2008 (8:49 am)


  • Al February 27, 2008 (8:56 am)

    Good. Exxon should pay for what they did. It’s crazy this has been allowed to go on for so long.

  • WSB February 27, 2008 (9:38 am)

    thanks, Christopher – I have changed the wording “the ongoing case” to “one ongoing case.”

  • OP February 27, 2008 (9:49 am)

    Agreed, it’s abomination that this case has gone on for 19 years and had to go to the S.C. Exxon should and must be held accountable. Time to pay the piper.

  • Jen V. February 27, 2008 (10:44 am)

    This happened on my 15th birthday….I was shocked to hear on NPR this morning that the case is still ongoing. 19 years. Amen, OP- time for Exxon to pay up!

  • Aidan Hadley February 27, 2008 (11:58 am)

    I agree that Exxon should pay until it actually hurts them. But the sad fact is that no amount of money is going to put back that pristine Sound to the way it was before. For all of its energy and chemical wonders, oil is horrible stuff when spilled in the wrong place. And in some ways our insatiable thirst for oil in all its forms (chemicals, plastics, fuel) makes us all complicit in this disaster.

  • Rick February 27, 2008 (12:32 pm)

    This is an old strategy. Continuing cases in courts for years until claimants/compensees die or otherwise go away. Also to be figured in is the value of a dollar 19 years ago as compared to today. It’s become less and less about any form of justice and more about business (as usual). Who’s living in Exxon’s pockets? Shouldn’t be hard to figure out. It’s a shame and a disgrace.

  • Bayou February 27, 2008 (4:05 pm)

    I didn’t realize that Natalie Fobes was a West Seattlite. Although I was young at the time of the spill, her photographs had a profound effect on me.

    I somehow doubt that justice can ever truly be served after such a horrid environmental crisis.

  • Amy Kober February 27, 2008 (4:36 pm)

    Natalie is an awesome photographer and she has always been generous in helping out on various worthy causes. Seeing her pictures of the oil spill drive home once again what a tragedy that was (and still is).

  • picklemom February 27, 2008 (8:30 pm)

    Exxon is a disgrace, with obscene profits and no accountability. I’d rather put sugar into my gas tank than Exxon gas. Yeah, I know they’re not the only sleazy oil company, but they’re the worst. How the hell do they get away with this? OK, that’s a rhetorical question.

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