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The Green Life: The Exxon Valdez Oil Spill, 20 Years Later

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March 24, 2009

The Exxon Valdez Oil Spill, 20 Years Later

Oil spill duck Today is the 20th anniversary of one of the worst environmental disasters in history, the devastating Exxon Valdez oil spill in Alaska. To mark the occassion, the House Natural Resources Committee is meeting to discuss the future of U.S. drilling.

A few short years ago it seemed that the lessons painfully wrought from this catastrophe had been forgotten when, in 2007, George W. Bush opened Bristol Bay, Alaska to offshore drilling.

After the deaths of thousands of otters, seals, and sea birds, along with a $300 million loss to the fishing industry, Bristol Bay citizens are rallying against the 2011 lease sale of America's "fish basket." According to the Mineral Management Service, Bristol Bay may yield $7.7 billion in oil revenues over the next 25 to 40 years, but that pales in comparison to the $50 to $80 billion local fisheries will reel in.

Today's committee meeting will help set the tone for the Obama administration's stance on energy. Yesterday, the president said that the U.S. ought to become "the world's leading exporter of renewable energy," but his resolve on the matter will be tested as the world's economy slowly limps into recovery, dragging its appetite for oil with it.

--Jordana Fyne

For more about the EVOS anniversary, see Carl Pope's op-ed in the San Francisco Chronicle, as well as this overview of related media coverage on the Wall Street Journal's "Environmental Capital" blog.

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