For Immediate Release

Shari Ireton
University of Washington School of Law


UW Environmental Law Clinic Recognized for Exxon Valdez Case

The UW School of Law Berman Environmental Law Clinic received the Excellence in a Public Interest Case or Project from the Clinical Legal Education Association for its work on behalf of Native Alaskans impacted by the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill.

In 2004, UW law professor Bill Rodgers challenged environmental law students to examine a little known clause in the Exxon Valdez oil spill (EVOS) settlement that would allow Alaska and federal government agencies to seek an additional $100 million. The clause, known as the "reopener", provided that additional money could be sought for damages that were unforeseen or known at the time of the settlement.

Following on Rodgers' class, students in the Berman Environmental Law Clinic and Professor Michael Robinson-Dorn traveled to Alaska to inspect the spill zone and meet with members of native tribes and others still affected by the spill 17 years later. In early May 2006, several native Alaska tribes and organizations filed a petition, citing the findings and results of the students' work. The petition called for the government to consult with the tribes and organizations on the question of whether the U.S. would pursue all or a portion of the reopener funds.

In June 2006, the Department of Justice and the state of Alaska decided to seek an additional $92 million from ExxonMobil, Corp as a result of the work by UW law faculty and students.

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