Exxon Valdez Oil Spill Trustee Council seeks public comment

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The Exxon Valdez Oil Spill Trustee Council is taking public comments on several draft resolutions that would change the Council’s meetings, change how trust funds are managed, and expand the oil spill’s original boundaries to incorporate an ecosystem approach.

The first resolution seeks to eliminate the annual public meeting and funding process. The annual meeting is normally used to decide how to fund annual projects, but since the Trustee Council is moving to a multi-year plan of projects, they are proposing instead to meet as necessary to address any changes to these projects.

In fact, the second draft resolution would grant the Trustee Council the authority to approve multiple years of funding for projects.

The third resolution would combine certain trust fund accounts, namely the habitat and research ones, into a single multi-purpose account. Federal legislation would need to be changed, though, to combine those accounts. Currently, the accounts are earning good returns with the State Department of Revenue. Another option, to avoid the lengthy process of changing federal legislation, that the Council is considering is to transfer these trust funds to the Department of Interior’s Natural Resource Damage Assessment and Restoration Fund, which typically earns minimal returns.

What might be the most significant proposed amendment to the EVOS restoration plan is a redefining of the oil spill impact boundary. Right now, the oil spill area is restricted to the initial impact area. Funds from the trust are primarily spent where the most serious injury occurred after the 1989 spill.

However, according to the draft resolution, QUOTE “available science has consistently pointed to a broader ecological footprint attributable to the spill.” UNQUOTE For instance, many of the sea birds injured by the spill have had to relocate significant distances away, interrupting their reproductive cycles. So, the Council is looking to redefine the spill impact area according to ecosystem, rather than the immediate geographical area, in order pursue more comprehensive restoration projects.

You can review the draft resolutions and submit public comment on the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill Trustee Council website. Public comments will be taken until December 16.

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