Resolution in support of Exxon Valdez “Reopener for Unknown Injury”

On Friday, September 18, 2015, the council’s board of directors unanimously passed a resolution in support of the “Reopener for Unknown Injury” from the Exxon Valdez oil spill. Multiple citizens called in during the public comment period to voice their opinions about this important issue. Media release: Citizens’ Oversight Council calls for Agreement on Exxon Valdez Oil Spill Restoration Resolution 15-07 – “Supporting Habitat Restoration Pursuant to Damages Caused by the 1989 Exxon Valdez Oil Spill – in support of a meeting between the United States, the State of Alaska, Exxon, Inc., and the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill Trustees Council.” Full text of Resolution 15-07 Supporting Habitat Restoration Pursuant to Damages Caused by the 1989 Exxon Valdez Oil Spill WHEREAS, the Exxon Valdez Settlement Agreement contains a reopener clause allowing the federal or state government to request additional funds from Exxon due to unanticipated remaining oil in the environment and subsequent failure of species to recover within Prince William Sound; WHEREAS, in 2006, the United States and the State of Alaska presented to Exxon a comprehensive project plan for the cleanup of lingering oil at an estimated cost of $92 million; … Continue reading

New law means sustainable funds for spill prevention and response in Alaska

A new refined fuel products tax to fund Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation’s Spill Prevention and Response division was signed into law by Governor Walker on June 27. The division had been facing a significant funding shortfall for some time as previous funding came solely from a per-barrel charge on crude oil produced in the state. Declining oil production meant decreasing funds. … Continue reading

How do you define burdensome?

By Amanda Bauer Council President As a personal rule, I try not to get caught up in the words that people choose. But there is one word that has been used so much in conversations about funding for oil spill prevention and response, and when talking about the cost-efficiency of regulations: that word is burdensome. I would like to tell you about some things I would consider a burden. … Continue reading

State spill prevention and response division prevails in fight for funding

By Steve Rothchild Administrative Deputy Director The Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation’s division of Spill Prevention and Response, often referred to by the acronym “SPAR,” has been facing a significant funding shortfall for some time due to declining oil production. The division works to prevent, prepare and respond to spills of oil and hazardous substances as well as oversee the cleanup of contaminated sites. Their work includes facility inspections, contingency plan review and approval, drills and exercises and site monitoring. In the 1980s, the State legislature instituted a per barrel surcharge on crude oil to provide funding for the division. Unfortunately, when originally enacted, there was no inflation protection in the bill and production has declined. Running out of money This year, without inflation protection or another funding source, the crude oil surcharge became inadequate to support SPAR’s work, necessitating staff reductions and other cost savings. Starting in early 2014, department personnel provided projections to both the House and Senate showing the decrease of funds due to lower oil production. SPAR has been relying on large oil spill settlements and penalties to address the shortfall for several years but those are now spent. This year, SPAR reduced expenses by combining the planning and prevention program with the prevention and response program, reducing personnel, and more actively pursued cost reimbursement, however the shortfall was projected to be $7 million annually. Without a fix to funding, essential services would cease and SPAR would have to reduce personnel by approximately 40 percent. … Continue reading