My First Dispatch from Alaska

I write from Cordova, Alaska. The beauty of the landscape is amazing and the similarities between the culture here and the Gulf are striking. The people here are dependent on the sea for their culture and their economy. The Exxxon Valdez disaster struck them to the core, not only destroying their economy but tearing apart the fabric of their community. Even today, they say the divisions in the community remain.However, what they have learned from this is that if oil and gas development and transportation must be a part of life, then they must be prepared to deal with the inevitable spills. All companies, including local gas suppliers, are required tode have a spill response plan that includes details about the actual contractor responsible and the equipment needed to complete the response. In fact, after the Exxon Valdez spill, a not-for-profit company was established to assist companies in preparing for spill response. Equipment is located throughout Prince William Sound to ensure that it can be deployed within 24 hours and a comprehensive larger response can be deployed within 72 hours.Additionally, a group of fishermen in each port are trained as oil spill responders. They are paid to go through training each year for this purpose and must be able to deploy within 6 hours. This ensures that once a spill happens the local community can deploy quickly and effectively to contain the spill.In short, no one here pretends that large oil spills are unlikely to happen. Instead they acknowledge the possibilty and prepare for it. This is what the communities of the Gulf must do if we are to continue to co-exist with oil and gas development.

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