Before the state’s oil spill regulations are modified, any proposed changes will undergo an extended public comment period, according to Jason Brune, commissioner for the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation.
Beginning last fall, the department asked the public for input on Alaska’s statutes and regulations covering oil spill prevention and response.
Brune joined the Council during a September meeting of the Board of Directors to discuss potential changes from these comments. The Council was encouraged to hear a promise from the commissioner that any proposed changes will be given more than the required 30-day public comment period.
During the public scoping, the Council raised a number of concerns which it still holds including: that this process, concluded earlier this year, was too broad for effective input; that this approach shifted the burden to the public to justify and defend these regulations and statutes; and that the department’s capacity for this review will be limited due to reduced staff and drastically reduced funding in the coming years.
The Council is also concerned about transparency both during the process and now after the scoping has closed as the commissioner noted that the department has had follow-up communications with industry and other stakeholders which are not part of the public record.