Council will continue working to monitor the transportation of oil in Cook Inlet

CIRCAC recertified

Posted: Friday, March 21, 2003

The Cook Inlet Regional Citizens Advisory Council has won U.S. Coast Guard recertification for another year, CIRCAC officials said last week.

Rear Adm. J.W. Underwood, commander of the 17th Coast Guard District, announced the decision in a November letter to the Cook Inlet RCAC saying it was working toward fulfilling the mandates of the Oil Pollution Act of 1990. That legislation, written in the wake of the Exxon Valdez oil spill in 1989, established regional council in Cook Inlet and Prince William Sound to provide advice, oversight and monitoring of terminal facilities and tanker operations.

Steve Howell, CIRCAC's public outreach director, said the timing of the agency's quarterly meetings delayed public announ-cement of the successful recertification. CIRCAC released that announcement in its March 3 press release.

"Everything we do reinforces our mission of ensuring the safe transportation of oil in Cook Inlet," said former RCAC Executive Director James E. Carter Sr. "We made great progress last year, and we're well on our way to another remarkable year in 2003."

Carter, who retired Feb. 28 after heading the agency for the past four years, recently told the Clarion he believed CIRCAC was successful at partnering with the oil industry and representing the public's views on oil production and transportation safety. He also noted CIRCAC's success at influencing state policy.

"I feel we have gained the reputation of being a player, while also following the mandates that were established," he said.

Mike Munger, formerly CIRCAC's operation director, replaced Carter.

In his letter, Underwood said he'd reviewed Cook Inlet RCAC's recertification package and heard from the public as well as from staff.

"Of the comments the Coast Guard received, all were supportive of recertification and noted the positive efforts, good communications and broad representation of Cook Inlet communities as Cook Inlet RCAC carries out its responsibilities as intended by the act (OPA 90)."

The Cook Inlet Regional Citizens Advisory Council consists of 13 member organizations, which includes cities, boroughs and interest groups with a stake in the protection of Cook Inlet resources.

The recertification expires Aug. 31.

By law, CIRCAC must recertify every year. Originally, recertification was a lengthy and detailed annual process. However, more recently, CIRCAC has been required to execute the "long form" recertification process every three years, with a shorter, less detailed process conducted in the intervening years, Howell said.

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