20 years ago, the Exxon Valdez oil spill devastated the local environment around Prince William Sound. About 11 million gallons of oil was spilled that day. According to the Oil Spill Trustee Council, an official number of animals that died that day and since as a result of the oil spill is unknown; it is estimated that “250,000 seabirds, 2,800 sea otters, 300 harbor seals, 250 bald eagles, up to 22 killer whales and billions of salmon and herring eggs” were the victims of the oil spill.
Exxon is back at it again, except this time as Exxon Mobil, and the victims are the endangered western gray whales. In a new report from the WWF, “Exxonmobil has ignored a petition from more than 50,000 people demanding the oil and gas giant and several other companies to suspend activities that harm the western gray whale, one of the world’s critically endangered whales.” According to the IUCN red list of threatened species, the best estimate is 113-131 (2006).
Oil and gas development activities are disrupting the whales’ feeding habitat at northeast Sakhalin Island. If Shell and other oil companies are willing to postpone their surveys until after the whales are done feeding, why can’t Exxon Mobil, Rosneft and other oil companies disrupting the feeding comply too? Exxon Mobil, as the giant company, has a chance to take the lead and set an example to the others to delay their development until the whales are done feeding.