August 13, 2009

Exxon Pleads Guilty To Bird Slaughter

The Justice Department said on Thursday that U.S. oil and gas company Exxon-Mobil has pleaded guilty to killing 85 protected birds by exposing them to hydrocarbons at sites in five different U.S. states.

The AFP reported that the company pleaded guilty before a Denver court to violating the federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act by allowing hydrocarbons to escape from uncovered natural gas well reserve pits and waste water storage facilities at sites in Colorado, Wyoming, Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas.

Birds like waterfowl, hawks, ibis, and owls were killed at Exxon-Mobil drilling and production facilities.  All of the birds are listed as protected, but not endangered.

The Justice Department said the guilty plea came as part of an agreement with the government that will see Exxon-Mobil plead guilty to five charges and pay $400,000 in fines and $200,000 in community service payments.

The fines will go towards a federally administered fund to protect wetlands, and the community service payments will be divided between a bird foundation in Colorado and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation chapter in each affected state.

"The environmental compliance plan that Exxon-Mobil has agreed to in this multi-district plea agreement is an important step in protecting migratory birds in these five states," said John Cruden, acting assistant attorney general for the Justice Department's Environment and Natural Resources Division.