Change Oil Spill Response Global Alliance
The Alaska Regional Response Team (ARRT), consisting of federal and state agency officials responsible for protecting and safeguarding Alaskan lands and waters, is ready to give the green light to chemical dispersant preauthorization plans that were presented at their May 22 meeting in Valdez, Alaska.
Fearing the ARRT’s dispersant plan approval, Alaskan groups and tribes led by the Alaska Inter-Tribal Council (AITC) have begun enacting statewide, legally binding tribal resolutions opposing the use of chemical dispersant substances in oil spill contingency planning throughout Alaska. With more than 200 indigenous tribes living in remote wilderness, many without grocery stores, and, who have no direct representation at the ARRT table, a decision to apply chemical dispersants to mitigate oil spills has untenable trade-offs impacting their fisheries and polluting their food and water sources.
While this tribal feud with federal agencies has been going on for years, the AITC has joined forces with the Lawrence Anthony Earth Organization. This coalition is a newly-formed regional partnership for Alaska and part of LAEO’s Change Oil Spill Response (COSR) Global Alliance initiative.
The AITC coalition of Alaskan tribal representatives and groups now formed as the Change Oil Spill Response Global Alliance Delegation prepared documentation and scientific studies supporting the complete elimination of chemical dispersants in Alaskan spill response. They have delivered 18 Tribal Council resolutions currently in hand to the committee co-chairs: Mr. Mark Everett, U.S. Coast Guard, and Chris Field, EPA Coordinator.
Chief Michael Stickman of Nulato, International Chair of the Arctic Athabascan Council and a leading member of a newly established Arctic Council Task Force working to substantially improve procedures for combating oil spills in the Arctic, endorsed the Alliance formation stating: “Committing to clean up oil spills after they happen is insufficient. Precaution and nation-to-nation Tribal Government Consultation and free, prior, informed consent must be enacted before hasty implementation of a policy of pre-authorizing toxic chemical dispersants substances in oil spill contingency planning. Why have less toxic bioremediation methods with a 20-year track record of effectiveness been ignored by the Alaska inter-agency Regional Response Team?”
Consolidated Alaskan Tribes have a straightforward demand — they require clean water and healthy fisheries, which are critical to their survival as people living in an arctic environment. Tribes have treaty rights as sovereign nations and have considerable authority over what affects their ability to hunt, fish and sustain their lifestyles as Native Americans.
LAEO’s Science and Technology Advisory Board released a 44-page position paper last month outlining an entirely new approach to oil spill problems associated with drilling, transport, pipelines, and storage mishaps, entitled A Call for a Twenty-First-Century SOLUTION in Oil Spill Response.
The Alaska Inter-Tribal Council requested LAEO’s assistance and are now using their materials to educate tribal governments and communities on the chemical dispersant issue throughout Alaska. Many tribes are in remote locations, not connected to broadband and have little to no representation for protecting fishing, hunting, gathering and bartering interests. Tribes and Coastal communities are disproportionately impacted by federal, and state decision makers who gift to outside multi-national corporations large entitlements and easy access to Alaska’s waters, land, air and salmon streams often ignoring pre-existing rights of indigenous Alaskans and other citizens.
Read and Download Documentation from the Alaska Alliance.