The Prince William Sound Regional Citizens' Advisory Council met Thursday for the first time since President Obama's Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill Commission recommended the creation of similar councils in the Gulf -- and the Arctic.
The PWSRCAC, created after the 1989 Exxon Valdez spill, says it’s ready and willing to help establish similar councils as suggested in the commission's final report. While the council has no regulatory authority, it does have the power to ask questions of the industry and to shine a light on potential problems.
Companies, including Shell, which regularly conducts public hearings in communities on the North Slope, say a citizens' council for the Arctic may be premature and redundant.
“We're thinking that an Arctic RCAC is premature. It's our view that a very robust process is already in place. Shell meets with stakeholders on a regular basis. We also meet the strictest regulatory guidelines in all the world. So to further complicate that with an Arctic RCAC, we think would only lead to more red tape and delays in a project that's already been delayed by five years,” said Shell Alaska spokesperson Curtis Smith.
Council members say Prince William Sound is better off for it and believe the same concept could work well for the Arctic.
“I don’t think it's redundant. I think it's an important piece that they do have their own representation, because what impacts one community might impact another one differently,” said Diane Selanoff, a PWSRCAC member.
“It gives the citizens an opportunity and a forum by which to bring up their concerns, then they can ban together and maybe make some changes for the betterment of everybody,” added PWSRCAC member Patience Anderson Faulkner.
Former Lt. Gov. Fran Ulmer served on the spill commission and pushed the advisory-council concept for the Gulf and the Arctic.
Contact Rhonda McBride at email@example.com