Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Resolution Asks Industry to Pay More Toward Oil Spill Prevention, Recovery

The Prince William Sound Regional Citizens’ Advisory Council is asking for the oil and shipping industry to invest more in oil spill prevention and recovery efforts nationwide. The advisory council said so March 26 by unanimously approving a resolution in support of amendments to the federal Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund and Oil Pollution Act of 1990.

The next step is to provide copies of the resolution to Alaska’s congressional delegation for their consideration and potential action. Copies of the resolution are also going to Alyeska Pipeline Service Co., the shipping industry serving Alaska, and communities and organizations that comprise the advisory council.

The resolution supports an increase in the per barrel fee on petroleum collected at the refinery that is contributed into the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund, plus a requirement that all cargo and other commercial ships using domestic ports nationwide contribute to the trust fund. The resolution also supports clarifying and facilitating use of the fund for oil spill prevention measures, and revising oil spill liability limitations in the Oil Pollution Act of 1990 to re-assign liability from the public to those utilizing the waterways of the United States for commerce.

The resolution notes that current funding for oil spill prevention measures nationwide is insufficient, as evidenced by the enormous cost of injury and damages to terrestrial and marine habitats for fish and wildlife, the environment and people from oil spills in Prince William Sound and the rest of the United States.

It notes that the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund is currently collecting eight cents a barrel on oil shipments—less than one percent of the current price of oil.

Marine conservation consultant Rick Steiner proposed the resolution to the RCAC back in December. Steiner, who has consulted with countries worldwide on oil spill issues, was in Cordova working as a marine adviser for the University of Alaska when the Exxon Valdez oil spill disaster occurred.

Steiner said if Congress makes these changes in the federal legislation there will be substantial funding available for what needs to be done to secure Alaska’s seas and coasts from the threat of major oil spills, both from offshore drilling and shipping.

It would be the most significant enhancement in spill prevention and respond funding in US history, and it wouldn’t cost US taxpayers a cent, he said.

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