March 24, 2019 marks the 30th anniversary of the Exxon Valdez oil spill in Alaska’s Prince William Sound
March 23, 2019 by stephenshubert
NEARLY 11 million gallons of spilled oil decimated marine birds and mammals (including the AT-1 orca pod designated by NOAA as “depleted”). Oil is still found on the beaches and the impacts are still being felt by the members of this once thriving and pristine fishing community.
This must not happen in our waters!
We must protect our marine ecosystem – home to our struggling Southern Resident orcas and our environment economy.The good news is that we can take action right now. A ll of the Healthy Salish Sea bills that Safe Shippers have been advocating for are still alive in our state legislature!
Please tell your representatives how important it is that they support The Oil Spill Prevention Act and The Orca Emergency Response Bills (see below for more information about these individual bills). They need to hear from you!
Here’s an easy way to write to your representative (click here: https://wagreen.p2a.co/HzuYux4). As always, for the most impact, please add your own personal story about your love of the Salish Sea.
Journal of the San Juan Islands: What can the Exxon Valdez teach us about the Salish Sea?
Journal of the San Juan Islands: Learning from the Exxon Valdez oil spill
KTUU Anchorage: 30 years later, researchers are still learning from the Exxon Valdez oil spill
The Balance: Exxon Valdez Oil Spill. What Were Its True Costs?
(From Washington Environmental Council and Stand Up To Oil Campaign)
HB 1578 (Oil spill prevention) was passed out of the House with a 70-28 vote! The core protection in the bill to enact new tug escort requirements for oil laden vessels remains strong and intact. However, there was a significant amendment to the bill, which now no longer provides authority to that state to initiate rulemaking on an emergency rescue towing vessel (ERTV), and instead requires study on the efficacy of an ERTV and a report-back to the legislature. Although this scales back the immediate power of the state to enact this protection tool, this new approach still moves the ball forward in setting up our community with information we will need for a firm recommendation or requirement for an ERTV during a future legislative session. Updated bill is here.
HB 1579 (Habitat protections for salmon and forage fish) was passed out of the House with a 59-39 vote. This bill protects habitat by expanding civil penalty compliance tools and by eliminating the fast-track permitting pathway for shoreline hardening.
Both HB 1580 and SB 5577 (Decreasing vessel noise and disturbance) passed out of their respective chambers with a 78-20 and 48-3 vote, respectively. This bill increases the distance within which a vessel may not approach a Southern resident orca from 200 yards to 300 yards on either side and 400 yards behind the orca, establishes a commercial whale watching license program with rules and fees for licenses, establishes a boater education effort and includes sustainable whale watching to be included in the statewide tourism marketing plan.
SB 5135 (Preventing toxic pollution that affects public health or the environment) narrowly passed out of the Senate with a 25-24 vote. The bill will help prevent toxic pollution from impacting orcas and vulnerable human populations.
Orca Protectors is an outreach arm of San Juan Islanders for Safe Shipping. Since 2012, informed and engaged “Safe Shippers” have taken action to educate and empower fellow citizens, visitors, island organizations, and local government to promote the environmental and economic health of the Salish Sea and island shores — so that all creatures can live, thrive and enjoy the islands together.
Orca Protectors was formed by Safe Shippers in 2017 by inviting local, but historically disparate, organizations to march together in the Friday Harbor July 4th parade for the common cause of Southern Resident whale protection and recovery — earning the Judge’s Special Choice Award and demonstrating the power of cooperation.