Pipeline critic calls for citizens oversight panel

Posted: Wednesday, June 12, 2002

WASHINGTON (AP) -- A trans-Alaska oil pipeline critic is calling for a public oversight panel similar to the Regional Citizens Advisory Councils set up after the Exxon Valdez oil spill.

The recommendation is part of a report on the pipeline system released Wednesday by the Alaska Forum for Environmental Responsibility. The report was written by Richard Fineberg, a frequent pipeline critic.

At a news conference in Washington, D.C., Fineberg said the pipeline has numerous physical, operational and management problems that are not being addressed in the pipeline right-of-way renewal process which currently is underway.

Reauthorization should require a citizens oversight group to give the pipeline more scrutiny than it's currently getting from the owner companies and government regulators.

''It should not be left to engineers and bureaucrats to make the call on their own. We should all be in the mix,'' Fineberg said.

The report says climate change and melting permafrost are among future problems facing the pipeline.

Alyeska spokesman Curtis Thomas said a citizens oversight panel would be redundant.

''Alyeska is already regulated by over 20 agencies,'' Curtis said. ''There are plenty of opportunities for the public to tell us how they think we should operate better, safer or more efficiently.''

More money for oversight would leave less money for Alyeska to spend on projects and maintenance, Curtis said.

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