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Oil spill activists Tuesday stepped up their calls for the Knowles administration to take a stand against the Exxon-Mobil merger.
A coalition calling itself "the truth squad" wants federal regulators to halt the merger until Exxon pays $5.2 billion in damages a jury awarded to Alaskans hurt by the spill.
"We feel like these are corporate bad guys who should not be allowed to become the largest corporation in the world," Cordova resident Linden O'Toole said at a news conference. The group has made presentations at events in Washington D.C., Seattle and Valdez marking the 10th anniversary of the Exxon Valdez spill.
Knowles does not see a link between the merger and the court case and does not think a statement from him would influence the merger or help resolve the lawsuit, Knowles spokesman Bob King said Tuesday.
"The courts are notoriously independent. They do not bow to political pressure and they will take their time - regrettably - in this case," King said. "We are looking at more substantive ways to resolve the compensation issue quickly."
The Federal Trade Commission is reviewing the proposed $73.7 billion merger of Exxon Corp. and Mobil Corp. for possible anti-competitive effects. A statement from the governor would be purely symbolic and unlikely to influence the commission's decision, King said.
But Knowles could add another voice to those pressing Exxon to pay up, said environmental activist Jay Stange.
Sens. Slade Gorton, D-Wash., and Robert Torricelli, D-N.J., are slated to hold a news conference today to announce their opposition to the Exxon-Mobil merger because of Exxon's failure to pay the multibillion-dollar jury verdict.
At speeches in Valdez on Monday and Anchorage Tuesday, Knowles referred to the lawsuit, currently before the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
"Thousands of Alaskans are uncompensated for damage - that must change," Knowles said.
But those still waiting for a share of the damage verdict were not satisfied with the governor's position.
"It's important that our government stands by its people. That's what they're elected to do. They haven't done that. I don't understand why," said Gary Kompkoff, president of the Tatitlek Village Council.