NEWS BULLETIN

April 17, 2002 --- Vol. 8, No. 41April 2002

Governor signs best available technology bill

Gov. Tony Knowles signed Senate Bill 343 today, mandating the use of best available technology in oil spill prevention and response contingency plans.

SB 343 adopts a consensus-developed approach to the use of best available technology, the governor's office said, clarifying a recent Alaska Supreme Court decision that found ambiguity in the law upon which the current approach is based. The bill formally adopts the same methods for determining best available technology that were developed in 1997 with the involvement of government, industry, regional citizens’ advisory councils and the environmental community.

"The best available technology requirement is an integral part of managing oil exploration, development, and transportation in Alaska," Knowles said in a statement.

"We have had great success in applying the best available technology to bring state-of-the-art tractor tugs to assist tankers in Prince William Sound, and improve well-head source control techniques and leak detection technologies. The best available technology determinations have continually improved Alaska’s spill prevention and response system and made it the best in the world."

The governor's office said the bill validates those consensus-developed and effective methods, sustains the same level of rigor for contingency plan reviews, and supports the ability of the Department of Environmental Conservation to evaluate new technologies and incorporate them into future contingency plans.

Environmentalists, aboriginals argue for British Columbia offshore ban

With legislators undecided about the future of British Columbia's offshore, environmentalists and First Nations have decided to increase pressure on the Canadian government to maintain its ban on oil and natural gas drilling.

Greenpeace and other environmental groups and two British Columbia First Nations have been in Ottawa over the past two days presenting their arguments to federal officials.

Meanwhile, the British Columbia and federal governments are unable to agree who should make the first move to end the 30-year exploration moratorium.

Jo Dufay, campaigns director for Greenpeace Canada, said any move to lift the moratorium would be in direct contradiction of the federal government's commitment to ratify the Kyoto protocol on reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Jennifer Lash, executive director of the Living Oceans Society and a spokeswoman for the Oil Free Coast Alliance, argued that "science and experience from around the world has demonstrated that oil and water don't mix, causing harm to the environment, coastal economy and coastal communities."

The Alliance speaks for a number of conservation, labor and First Nations organizations and is pressing the Canadian government to look at alternatives to fossil-fuel consumption, such as the use of wind energy.

Representatives of the two aboriginal communities asserted that no moves can be made to lift the 1972 federal moratorium without settling their claims to ownership of the Queen Charlotte Islands and surrounding seabed.

The Haida First Nation has already placed a land claim before the courts and the Tsimsian Nations claim the territory as their own and insist the moratorium remain in place until an "independent environmental, economic, social and legal impact analysis can be concluded."


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