Citizen Oversight

Resources relating to citizens’ oversight groups for oil transportation


This paper explains how our council was formed, the rationale for such councils, the structural attributes necessary for successful citizen oversight, examples of key tasks accomplished by our council, and a summary of the role of citizen oversight in promoting safe crude oil transportation.

Oil Pollution Act of 1990 (OPA 90)

One of the documents that governs the work of the citizens’ council is the Oil Pollution Act of 1990, passed by Congress in response to the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill. In it, Congress mandated citizens’ councils for Prince William Sound and Cook Inlet. The purpose of these councils is to promote partnership and cooperation among local citizens, industry and government, and to build trust and provide citizen oversight of environmental compliance by oil terminals and tankers. Congress identified complacency on the part of the oil industry and government regulators as a root cause of the Exxon Valdez spill.

Contract with Alyeska Pipeline Service Co.

The other document that governs our work is our funding contract with Alyeska Pipeline Service Co., which operates the trans-Alaska pipeline and the Valdez tanker terminal. This contract guarantees annual funding for the council and ensures our independence from Alyeska as long as oil flows through the trans-Alaska pipeline.

Video on the History of PWSRCAC

A 14-minute video on the citizens’ group’s beginnings in 1989.  Link to video hosted on YouTube.

Historical and other potentially useful documents

National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling


Alaska Oil Spill Commission

Above are links to the final report and executive summary from the Alaska Oil Spill Commission’s study of the wreck of the Exxon Valdez.  Available for download from Alaska Resources Library and Information Service.

Community Involvement versus Big Oil

Presentation given at the 32nd Annual Michigan Conference of Political Scientists on October 26, 2000 by Dr. John Devens, former Executive Director at PWSRCAC and mayor of Valdez, Alaska during the Exxon Valdez oil spill.

Documents and letters chronicling Rick Steiner’s efforts to create a citizens’ council

The two links above are a collection of documents compiled by Rick Steiner, a retired University of Alaska, Fairbanks Marine Advisory Program Professor who remains active in oil spill prevention and response issues and the promotion of the formation of citizens advisory councils.  This PDF file contains communication, draft versions of legislation, papers, handwritten notes and other documents recording the efforts of Steiner and other parties working to create a citizens’ advisory council for the oil industry.

The above letter was written in 1994 by Rick Steiner about a proposal to establish a nationwide network of Regional Citizens’ Advisory Councils.

The above article by Rick Steiner was published June 2013 by United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), Perspectives Issue No. 10, June, 2013.

Oiled Mayors

The International Conference of Oiled Mayors was held June 26-27, 1989.  The “Oiled Mayors” began as a coalition of community leaders from the communities affected by the Exxon Valdez oil spill.  The conference included delegates representing communities affected by the Amoco Cadiz spill off of the coast of France.

Exxon Valdez Oil Spill Trustee Council Resources:

This history of the settlement, damage assessment, and restoration following the Exxon Valdez spill was researched, written, and designed by Joe Hunt.  Chapter 2 of Mission Without A Map discusses methods of assessing damages after the Exxon Valdez spill.

Available for download from Alaska Resources Library and Information Service.

Compiled by the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill Trustee Council, the above document contains links to a variety of important documents related to the Exxon Valdez.  Available for download from Alaska Resources Library and Information Service.

Citizen oversight councils worldwide

Prince William Sounds Regional Citizens Advisory Council – formed after Exxon Valdez oil spill, oversees Alyeska terminal and tankers in Prince William Sound, Alaska

Cook Inlet Regional Citizens Advisory Council – formed after Exxon Valdez oil spill, oversees oil industry in Cook Inlet, Alaska

Shetland Oil Terminal Environmental Advisory Group – oversees Sullom Voe Terminal in the Shetland Islands of Scotland. SOTEAG’s structure of guaranteed independence was the inspiration for the creation of the council’s in Prince William Sound and Cook Inlet.

The list of resources on this page is still under development.

Do you have or know about other resources we should consider adding to this page? Please email the webmaster with your suggestions. Thanks!

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