The Prince William Sound Regional Citizens’ Advisory Council: citizens promoting environmentally safe operation of the Alyeska terminal and associated tankers.
A voice for citizens
The Council is a voice for those affected by Prince William Sound’s oil industry. Council members represent Alaska communities and organizations that were affected by the Exxon Valdez oil spill, including aquaculture, commercial fishing, environmental groups, Alaska Native communities, recreation, and tourism. Communities and interest groups from Prince William Sound to Kodiak Island to lower Cook Inlet are represented — all areas that were touched by oil from the Exxon Valdez.
A unique approach
Industry must balance the need for environmental protection against the pressure for profits. Government agencies can be subject to political pressure to promote economic development and minimize the regulatory burden on industry.
The Council, by contrast, is relatively free from political and financial pressure. The Council’s advisory role and its diverse, community-based board largely insulate it from direct lobbying and other usual forms of political pressure.
The 1989 Exxon Valdez experience demonstrated that the oil industry could learn from people who live and work in the region affected by the terminal and tanker operations. A moral imperative also emerged from the Exxon Valdez spill: those people with the most to lose from oil pollution must have a voice in the decisions that put their livelihoods and communities at risk.
The Council is an independent non-profit corporation guided by our mission: citizens promoting environmentally safe operation of the Alyeska terminal and associated tankers.
Our structure and responsibilities stem from two documents:
- In February 1990, a group of citizens signed a contract with Alyeska Pipeline Service Co., which operates the trans-Alaska pipeline and the Valdez terminal. This contract guarantees annual funding for the council and ensures absolute independence from Alyeska. The contract is in effect as long as oil flows through the trans-Alaska pipeline.
- The second is the federal Oil Pollution Act of 1990 (OPA 90). After the Exxon Valdez oil spill, Congress identified complacency on the part of the oil industry and government regulators as a root cause of the spill. Through OPA 90, Congress mandated citizens’ councils for Prince William Sound and Cook Inlet as a method to combat this complacency in the future. These councils promote partnership and cooperation among local citizens, industry, and government; build trust; and provide citizen oversight of environmental compliance by oil terminals and tankers.