COOK INLET
REGIONAL CITIZENS
ADVISORY COUNCIL




Seasons Greetings
from
CIRCAC
& "Red Nose"


(Courtesy of Keelyn Heaven Photography)
COOK INLET NAVIGATOR E-NEWS
DECEMBER 2019
Update from the Board of Directors
We were happy to welcome Commissioner Jason Brune to our Board meeting on December 6. The Commissioner graciously devoted his day to stay and answer questions about our concerns regarding DEC’s regulatory review process. The DEC announced on October 15 that it is seeking public input on oil spill prevention and response regulations (i.e., rules issued by DEC) and underlying statutes (i.e., laws passed by the Alaska legislature). So far, this is just in the scoping phase, meaning that DEC has not yet proposed any specific changes. After DEC receives public input, it may begin a formal rule-making process to change the existing rules. If so, there will be an opportunity for the public to review and offer comment on the proposed rule changes. Many of our Board members and stakeholders have firsthand experiences and involvement with the Exxon Valdez oil spill, and are naturally concerned with any potential weakening of Alaska’s oil spill response planning standards which were enacted after the spill.
 
Commissioner Brune assured the Board that his department was in listening mode and had no desire whatsoever to roll-back environmental protections in place. He is interested in having industry's recommendations for changes to improve the process and will also consider adding regulations or statutes to make them better.
 
Among the Council’s concerns are the lack of specificity about changes that are under consideration. The Directors urged DEC to prioritize strengthening protection of the marine environment and adjacent coastal areas through prevention measures, which are proven to be far more effective than response. We remain concerned that DEC’s staffing and budget challenges directly affect its ability to conduct routine activities, much less the additional workload and staffing required to undertake this process. In discussions with industry, the main complaint that we have heard is not that C-plan regulations are a burden, but rather the lack of consistency with which they are applied. To address this concern, CIRCAC encourages the Department to prioritize staff training in Contingency Plan review.
 
At CIRCAC’s request, the Commissioner agreed to extend the public comment period to March 16, 2020. The public and RCACs will have another opportunity to comment on any proposed changes. We’re looking forward to working with DEC to ensure environmental protections remain strong and are not diluted. Any statutory changes will most likely happen during the 2021 Legislature, and CIRCAC will be following this process closely throughout the coming year.
Hilcorp/Harvest Alaska no longer storing oil at Drift River Terminal
Lori Nelson and Rich Novkaski with Hilcorp/Harvest Alaska (pictured above with CIRCAC Exec. Director Mike Munger) came to the Board meeting bearing a gift to commemorate the ongoing decommissioning of the Drift River Oil Terminal.

CIRCAC has long advocated for the terminal's closure to improve navigation safety and because of its its proximity to Mt. Redoubt. The Council commends Hilcorp for its work at the Terminal and completion of the Cross-Inlet Pipeline. Both go a long way to improve maritime safety in Cook Inlet.
AVTEC presents first joint CIRCAC/Marathon Scholarship
The Alaska Vocational Technical Center (AVTEC) awarded its first CIRCAC and Marathon Petroleum Scholarship to Hallie Bergwall. Hallie is currently a senior deckhand with Major Marine Tours in Seward and aspires to get her Captain's License. Congratulations, Hallie.

(Photo of Terry Federer and Hallie Bergwall courtesy of AVTEC)
APPLY FOR A CIRCAC SCHOLARSHIP
CIRCAC is now accepting applications from qualified Cook Inlet students for our next round of scholarships offerings. To date, CIRCAC has given ten deserving students $2500 scholarships to further their careers in environmental sciences or maritime and technical studies. To download an application, visit our website. The deadline to apply is March 25, 2020.