Governor Discusses Spill Response Readiness

Stephanie Joyce, KTOO – Juneau

Governor Sean Parnell and Environmental Conservation Commissioner Larry Hartig have met with major oil spill response organizations in Alaska to discuss their response readiness, after some Alaska spill and cleanup resources were sent to the Gulf of Mexico.  They say the state is prepared to respond should anything go wrong with Shell’s planned exploratory drilling in the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas. 

The governor is not happy that Shell recently decided to put that drilling off for another year, after environmental groups put the pressure on Interior Secretary Ken Salazar to deny their drilling permits. Shell’s decision removed that pressure, but Parnell says it also cost Alaska jobs. 

The administration’s survey is just one of a number of efforts now underway to re-examine offshore oil and gas drilling. 

A seven-member Presidential Commission kicked off a couple of hearings on the Gulf spill this morning in New Orleans.  University of Alaska Anchorage Chancellor Fran Ulmer is a member of that commission, and she had some listening sessions last week in Alaska to help her prepare for her work.  Among those she heard from at those meetings was an expert on Alaska’s 1989 Exxon Valdez Spill, who believes that offshore drilling in the Arctic Ocean poses risks the State is not prepared to manage.

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