On October 1, 1990, Joe Banta started a new job managing oil spill planning projects for a young organization, the Prince William Sound Regional Citizens’ Advisory Council.
“It was really amazing and rewarding to work for an organization like ours, especially in the early, formative days,” Banta said. “The energy was electric. There was a sense of urgency to make the council work, and get the organization’s structure up and running.”
Prior to joining the council, Banta witnessed the oil spill first hand as a Cordova fisherman and helped with the spill response, rescuing oiled wildlife.
Banta has been with the council for 25 years this October. He now works mostly with the council’s Scientific Advisory Committee and manages the council’s environmental monitoring projects.
“Good science is vital to the council’s ability to produce the best advice to Alyeska, shippers and regulators,” he says. “We are a pretty cheap insurance policy that counters the reality of constant pressure to reduce and cut costs.”
“We’ve got one of the best oil spill prevention and response systems in the world in Prince William Sound, and it’s because citizens are involved in the day to day planning and operational efforts. We aren’t just there sporadically for a plan review every five years, which allows for meaningful, productive input and continuous improvement.”
“Joe is such an amazing resource for the council and for the region,” says Mark Swanson, the executive director of the council. “Joe’s personal history with the Exxon oil spill cleanup and the spill’s social and economic effects, the fishing industry, and with so much of the work and scientific research of the council brings credibility, knowledge, and passion that is uniquely powerful as citizens work to better understand and improve oil spill prevention and response.”