From the Executive Director: Proposed amendment to Alaska’s Response Plan would reduce citizen involvement in spills like Exxon Valdez

Donna Schantz
Donna Schantz

The federal and state group that plans oil-spill response and cleanup in Alaska waters has proposed changes that would dismantle a vital tool for public involvement in that process.

The group in question is the Alaska Regional Response Team. This group is made up of 15 different federal and state agencies, and is chaired by the U.S. Coast Guard and the Environmental Protection Agency. The Department of Environmental Conservation is the primary representative for the State of Alaska.

Changing it as proposed would weaken, not strengthen, oil-spill response in Alaska waters. It’s a bad idea and we urge the Response Team to withdraw the proposal and rework it as needed with help from this citizens organization and other concerned stakeholders.

The tool the Response Team wants to dismantle is the Regional Stakeholder Committee. It includes our group and many others with much to lose if Alaskans should suffer another spill on the scale of the Exxon Valdez. The proposed change would replace the Stakeholder Committee with two smaller, weaker groups that would be far less effective, possibly to the point of near-irrelevance.

Read moreFrom the Executive Director: Proposed amendment to Alaska’s Response Plan would reduce citizen involvement in spills like Exxon Valdez

Opportunity for public comment: Changes proposed to process for public input on oil spills

The Alaska Regional Response Team, made up of state and federal agencies, recently proposed changes to the Alaska Federal/State Preparedness Plan for Response to Oil & Hazardous Substance Discharges/Releases, also known as the “Unified Plan,” which guides oil spill cleanup in Alaska. These changes would replace the Regional Stakeholder Committee, or RSC, the forum that has been used since the Exxon Valdez oil spill to communicate with those stakeholders affected by an incident such as an oil spill.

Read moreOpportunity for public comment: Changes proposed to process for public input on oil spills

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

The council's directors in Kodiak at the September 2015 board meeting.
The council’s directors in Kodiak at the September 2015 board meeting.

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;

Read moreResolution in support of Exxon Valdez “Reopener for Unknown Injury”

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

Right: Governor Walker signs the law, witnessed by council staff member Steve Rothchild; the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Cathy Munoz of Juneau; and Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation’s Commissioner Larry Hartig. Photo courtesy of the office of Governor Walker.
Governor Walker signs the law, witnessed by council staff member Steve Rothchild; the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Cathy Munoz of Juneau; and Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation’s Commissioner Larry Hartig. Photo courtesy of the office of Governor Walker.

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.

Read moreNew law means sustainable funds for spill prevention and response in Alaska

Skip to content