Jane Eisemann – Kodiak volunteer passionate about working for the council

Jane Eisemann, volunteer on the council’s Information and Education Committee, first came to Alaska in 1976 to visit her brother in Kodiak. She immediately fell in love with the state. “It was a beautiful place,” Eisemann said of her first impression. “My brother lived off the grid, I liked that lifestyle.” Eisemann returned to California with her mother, but before she left, she secured a job at a local pizza parlor, promising to return for good in two months. The island of Kodiak has now been her home for the last 38 years. Eisemann began commercial fishing in 1978 for crab, herring, and salmon. That year, she also got a winter job in the small community of Chiniak as a teacher’s assistant. With encouragement from the teacher, Eisemann decided to go back to school for a teaching degree while she continued to fish during the summers. Before she graduated, the Exxon Valdez ran aground and she ended up working on the cleanup effort. She noted it was a time of upheaval in the community. “The oil spill just changed everybody’s life,” she said. … Continue reading

UPDATED JULY 1: Budget cuts threaten spill response equipment in remote Alaska communities

Update: GOOD NEWS! We received word from Lt Nunez with Alaska’s District 17 of the Coast Guard that the Coast Guard headquarters has approved funds to keep the remote spill response equipment caches in Alaska through their next fiscal year (October 1, 2015 – September 30, 2016). Your letters of support helped! He specifically mentioned that the public’s letters of support for the caches really helped convince headquarters that Alaska has different needs than the rest of the country. Original post: In an effort to reduce spending, the U.S. Coast Guard is considering decommissioning caches of oil spill response equipment stationed around Alaska. The caches will be funded through the next fiscal year, however, long-term funding is not secure. The Coast Guard has invited the public to share their thoughts. … 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

The U.S. Coast Guard is seeking public comment on the proposed decommissioning of their oil spill response equipment caches located throughout Alaska

UPDATE: Caches have been funded through September 2016. Please visit Budget cuts threaten spill response equipment in remote Alaska communities for more information. Original post: Oil spill cleanup response equipment is pre-positioned in remote areas to help local communities mount an early response to pollution incidents in order to minimize environmental damage.  The justification for their removal is mostly due to the cost of maintaining this equipment because of the remote location of many of the sites.  Another justification is that many of the caches are co-located with other oil spill response equipment owned by private oil spill response organizations or the State of Alaska.  More information on the specific locations of the USCG Alaska-based equipment caches, including a complete inventory of equipment at each location, can be found at: D17 District Response Advisory Team (DRAT) The council strongly supports retaining the USCG equipment caches in our region, including Chenega Bay, Cordova, Valdez, Port Graham, Seward, Kodiak, Homer and Kenai.  Equipment caches in locations outside our region are equally important for the same reasons, and span from the Pribilof Islands to Unalaska all the way down to Ketchikan (see U.S. Coast Guard map with specific locations).  … Continue reading