Next year will be the 30th anniversary of the Exxon Valdez disaster in Aslaska's Prince William Sound. The tanker Valdez struck a rock, causing the worst oil spill in American history. The effects are still being felt.
In 1994 a jury awarded the state and affected parties a $5-billion judgment against Exxon. An Alaska appeals court then trimmed that - by half - down to $2.5-billion.
Today the Bush court voted 5-3 to transform Exxon's smackdown into a pat on the bottom, lowering the punitive damages award to $500-million. That's trimming 90% off the punitive damages the jury sought to impose. That works out to just under $50 per gallon of spilled oil in punitives.