A day after announcing it was cutting housing assistance at the end of next month for residents impacted by the Mayflower oil spill, ExxonMobil has apparently reversed course.
Congressman Tim Griffin of Arkansas’ second district released a statement Friday afternoon saying that after urging the oil giant to reconsider, the company now says it will continue paying for housing through the end of the year.
After personally speaking with a number of impacted residents, I urged ExxonMobil to reverse its decision to terminate prematurely housing assistance for the Mayflower victims – families who have had their lives turned upside down and face difficult decisions on where they want to live. Exxon officials have informed me that they are reversing course, have cancelled the automatic September 1, 2013 assistance cutoff, and pledge to work to meet the individual needs of the affected families, in response to my request yesterday. These victims didn’t ask for this spill, and I will continue to do all that I can to make sure they’re made whole.
22 homes were evacuated after the rupture of an ExxonMobil pipeline in March. While environmental officials say it’s safe for residents to return, many have resisted, concerned about long-term health risks.
The company has said it will buy the homes at their pre-spill values, but the deals have not been finalized.
UPDATE: Arkansas Attorney General Dustin, who is leading a joint state and federal lawsuit against the company, also released a statement about the decision:
Although I am happy that Exxon has retreated from the coldhearted policy that it announced just yesterday, I am again frustrated with the company. I am angry that families had to experience that level of stress and that it took so much public outcry for Exxon to change its position."