Reichert advocates for oil-spill victims

Rep. Dave Reichert (R-Wash.) plans to speak out Thursday on behalf of the victims of the Exxon Valdez oil spill 17 years ago.

Victims of the spill have sought payment for punitive damages awarded in 1994. The judgment is now $4.5 billion, but Exxon says it should only have to pay $25 million.

Reichert, who is facing a competitive race for his seat this fall and has tried to boost his environmental credentials and distance himself from ExxonMobil, has been vocal in defense of the victims of the spill. A month after the 17-year anniversary of the spill, Reichert sent fellow lawmakers and the ExxonMobil CEO letters asking that the company to pay its debt, particularly in light of the company’s $36 billion net income for the 2005 fiscal year.

Exxon was one of the major contributors in the energy sector to Reichert’s campaign in 2004, according to a report in The Seattle Times.

Also on Thursday, ExxonMobil will file its financial results for the current fiscal quarter. In its Dec. 31 filing, the company’s net income had jumped nearly 43 percent, from $25 billion in 2005 to $36 billion in 2006.

In a statement released yesterday, the chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas), announced that he intends to hold hearings on the high price of gasoline.