Treadwell: Delaying Keystone Pipeline a Risk to Alaska
Friday, March 07 2014
Lieutenant Governor Mead Treadwell said in a speech Friday that delaying approval of the Keystone Pipeline will mean more oil tankers and oil spills in Alaskan waters.
Treadwell spoke at the annual Southwest Alaska Municipal Conference, or SWAMC, in Anchorage. He said without a pipeline to the Lower 48, Canada will ship more of its oil west to Asia on the Great Circle Route.
Treadwell said that means more big tankers, and potential oil spills, in the already crowded Bering Sea and Gulf of Alaska. He called on President Obama to consider the safety of Alaska’s fishing industry and speed up approval for the pipeline.
Treadwell said Alaska is already struggling to cope with vessel traffic from Arctic oil development. The increase is stretching response capabilities, according to Unalaska-based salvager Dan Magone. Magone discussed marine safety in a recent interview on KUCB’s public affairs show “The Exchange.”
"Increases of traffic in the Aleutian Islands with shipping going across the North Pacific – it’s beyond the capability of what my small company could respond to properly," Magone says.
Magone says his salvage business has had to expand with the increasing traffic – merging with Florida-based Resolve Marine Services, for one. They’ve brought in new response equipment to deal with larger ships and larger problems, and he says other groups will have to do the same.
Lt. Gov. Treadwell said in his speech to SWAMC that there aren’t enough regulations in place to keep foreign ships from posing a spill risk in the Aleutians. But Magone says more traffic has meant better oversight.
"The big ships and that sort of thing, they’re not just going anywhere they want anymore," he said. "They need to be accountable now, and so they’re reporting what they’re doing, being monitored, that sort of thing."
In fact, Magone says the fishing fleet travels the most under the radar. But he says the Bering Sea’s riskiest spots, like Unimak Pass near Unalaska, have protocols in place for how ships should operate. He says those protocols will have to keep evolving as traffic increases.