Prince William Sound Regional Citizens Advisory Council elects new board members

Three are from Homer; Archibald reelected as board president for fifth term

The Prince William Sound Regional Citizens’ Advisory Council held its annual board meeting in Valdez on May 2-3. Among other business, the board elected officers who will serve from May 2024 to May 2025.

Three are from Homer, although two represent other entities.

Robert Archibald, representing the City of Homer, was elected president. He has served in this position for several terms. “It’s a very interesting position, so I don’t mind doing it and serving the board,” he told the Homer News.

As someone who worked for the oil industry with Crowley Maritime Corporation for more than 32 years, he said he felt the role was a “good way for me to give back to Prince William Sound.”

In a press release from the PWSRCAC, Archibald is quoted as saying, “of all the advances made in the safe transportation of oil since the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill, perhaps the most innovative and significant was the establishment of permanent, industry-funded citizen oversight for both Cook Inlet and Prince William Sound.

“Everyone involved should be proud of what has been accomplished since the spill, but we also should never become so satisfied with the current services or processes that we become complacent. Constant vigilance is needed to prevent a return to the pre-1989 complacency that allowed this disaster to happen.”

Mako Haggerty, representing the Kenai Peninsula Borough, was newly elected treasurer.

Bob Shavelson was elected secretary, representing the Oil Spill Region Environmental Coalition, the environmental seat on the board.

The mission of the Oil Spill Region Environmental Coalition is to “preserve the integrity of the marine ecosystem and coastal communities of Prince William Sound and the Gulf of Alaska,” according to the council website. The coalition is comprised of conservation and environmental organization members in the Exxon Valdez oil spill-affected regions.

Haggerty has been a board member since 2015 and Shavelson has been a member since 2014, according to Brooke Taylor, director of communications for the council.

Other items on the business agenda for the May meeting included an activity report by Alyeska Pipeline Service Company on the Valdez Marine Terminal and Ship Escort Response Vessel System operations, including an update on Alyeska’s efforts to address concerns identified in the council’s report “Assessment of Risks and Safety Culture at Alyeska’s Valdez Marine Terminal.”

There was the consideration of a resolution requesting a voluntary vessel speed reduction by the Trans Alaska Pipeline System tankers submitted by Oasis Earth.

Also included at the meeting were a summary informing the board and representatives of the council’s monitoring of drills and exercises in 2023 and an update on community outreach activities done by the council over the past year.

Finally, a report from the council’s legislative monitors and staff on political developments and prospects coming out of Washington, D.C., and Juneau was provided.

Regarding the voluntary vessel speed reduction for tankers, the briefing description reads “the board is being asked to adopt a resolution requesting all TAPS tanker owners voluntarily reduce vessel speed to 10 knots or less in the Prince William Sound traffic separation scheme. The purpose is to reduce the environmental footprint of the TAPS fleet, including reducing risk of vessel whale-strikes, underwater noise and carbon emission from burning fossil fuels.”

Taylor said that this resolution itself did not pass but the board did have concerns regarding the topics addressed and directed council staff to compose letters to appropriate regulatory agencies and the TAPS shippers about their concerns and advice on the issue.

“The content behind the resolution is something that the council has questions and advice about but at this time the board feels like it needs more information behind the content as it reads at this time,” Taylor said.

The Prince William Sound Regional Citizens’ Advisory Council, with offices in Anchorage and Valdez, is an independent nonprofit corporation whose mission is to promote the environmentally safe operation of the Valdez Marine Terminal and associated oil tankers.

The council’s work is guided by the Oil Pollution Act of 1990 and its contract with Alyeska Pipeline Service Company.

The council’s member organizations are communities in the region affected by the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill, as well as aquaculture, commercial fishing, environmental, Alaska Native associations and recreation and tourism groups.

Council activities include environmental monitoring, oil spill prevention and planning, oil spill response operations, terminal operations, maritime operations and community outreach.