Exxon Mobil
got a publicity bonanza yesterday for the  darnedest thing — paying part of a court-imposed bill for damage it did to Mayflower in 2013 when a flawed pipeline ruptured and spewed heavy crude over a nice Mayflower neighborhood and nearby wetlands.

You’d have thought it was an Arkansas legislative “grip-and-grin.” Blown-up check with “Exxon Mobil” emblazoned at the top. Grinning city official praising Exxon for their wonderful gift. Glorious talk about a civic building that could be built with the money. (IF additional money can first be found, whether through a tax increase or other benefactor.)

Exxon HAD to pay this money as part of a court-agreed settlement of the damage they did. You could argue they should have paid more than the $5 million provided in the settlement for various parties. The cleanup is still not over. The oil giant (currently involved in a larger debate about its huge expenditures to mislead the world about the impact of burning fossil fuel on climate change) doesn’t appear to me like a worthy subject of a standing ovation.

When a nursing home has to write a million-dollar check to the family of a woman who died in pain because of nursing home neglect, do they have a check-passing ceremony complete with blown-up check (COURTESY OF GREEN ACRES RETIREMENT VILLAGE) handed over to smiling relatives of the deceased? 

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Take Exxon’s $500,000 pittance to Mayflower, multiply it times 32,000 and you have Exxon’s net $16 BILLION in profits last year. Chump change, in other words.

If pending legal action on behalf of damaged residents and property owners produces further Exxon payments, I wouldn’t look for similar check-passing ceremonies.

Maybe if Exxon spills more oil, Mayflower can finish that civic center. Grin