Health & Safety Task Force Report Proposes Changes To Better Protect the Health of Workers and the Public During Oil Spills

Feb. 15, 2024. A ground-breaking report identifies new programs and specific law changes to better protect worker health and public health during oil spills and chemical releases. The report is the initial work of the Health & Safety Task Force, co-chaired by ALERT and state officials from Washington and Oregon, that was chartered by the federal Regional Response Team 10 and the Northwest Area Committee in 2023. The task force will develop these programs in 2024 as models for other states and regions.

Michael Tierney Law Article: Sovereign Cooperation: The Makah Tribe's Office of Marine Affairs and the Fundamentals of Partnering with Uncle Sam

Jan. 12, 2024. When it comes to dispersant use in federal water, precedent paves a path of cooperation and government accountability. Tierney’s article discusses precedent and guidelines that allow Tribes and those affected by dispersants to retain decision-making authority over when, how, and where dispersants are used. Thus, ensuring government accountability, cooperation, and fiduciary responsibility to the American public and maritime resources.

 

ALERT and allies petition OSHA to record cold-and-flu like symptoms

Feb. 12, 2023 ALERT, along with Labor, commercial fishermen, environmental health advocates, and the National Tribal Emergency Management Council and Northwest Tribal Emergency Management Council petitioned the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to change a key rule that would provide greater protection to oil spill response workers. 

 

ALERT petitions the EPA to supplement its proposed rule

June 23, 2022. ALERT’s coalition of allies petitioned the EPA to supplement its outdated 2015 proposed rule for dispersant use with the most current science and to complete this rulemaking by the court-ordered deadline of May 31, 2023. The petition states that failure by EPA to take current science into account will be a dereliction of its duties under the Clean Water Act.

 

ALERT and allies request action from U.S. President Joe Biden

ALERT, Gulf coast community organizations, and other allies for environmental justice sent a letter to President Biden requesting two immediate actions in relation to ongoing dispersant litigation and the associated EPA rulemaking:

1) Order EPA to withdraw its final rule on monitoring of atypical dispersant use, issued on July 27, 2021, before it goes into effect on January 24, 2022; and

2) Order EPA to issue one comprehensive rule in its 2015 proposed rulemaking, on or before May 31, 2023, based on the latest science, i.e., to present.

 

ALERT policy recommendations will inform the Dept. of Interior interim report on oil and gas development regarding offshore leasing and oil spills

April 2021.  ALERT policy recommendations would close subsidies, loopholes and exemptions that allow the fossil fuel industry to skirt science and public policy while hiding the true cost of our oil dependency. Accounting for these hidden costs will make clean safe renewable energies more economically feasible – and transition to them more imminent!

ALERT policy recommendations will inform the Dept. of Interior interim report on oil and gas development regarding offshore leasing and oil spills

April 2021.  ALERT policy recommendations would close subsidies, loopholes and exemptions that allow the fossil fuel industry to skirt science and public policy while hiding the true cost of our oil dependency. Accounting for these hidden costs will make clean safe renewable energies more economically feasible – and transition to them more imminent!

ALERT template on OCS lease sale comments for citizen beneficiaries under Public Trust Doctrine

Jan. 2019.  Comments by ALERT and others on EIS scoping for proposed 2019 Beaufort Sea Lease Sale focused on federal government’s fiduciary duty to protect the ocean and other public trust resources under Public Trust Doctrine. “We find the duties of government trustees under the PTD must be considered in the EIS [scoping process]…"

 

Citizens use ALERT template to request real change after Enbridge tar sands oil spill disaster

Aug 2016. Shortly after EPA closed comments for the BP Whiting refinery settlement (see below), an opportunity arose to replicate our model for oil spill settlements. EPA opened comments on the much larger 2010 Enbridge tar sands oil disaster in the Kalamazoo River and area. The same multi-state mid-west coalition managed to craft technical comments entirely by themselves. The coalition doubled-down on the same requests as the BP Whiting Refinery, plus they requested that an additional third tier of spill prevention and response for the upper Mississippi River.

Download the support exhibits (zip file with 11 documents)

Letter to EPA requesting action on Canadian rulemaking

Sept. 2015. Request to U.S. EPA to take proactive measures to prevent Canada from approving the same toxic Corexit dispersants in oil spill response that ALERT and other concerned citizens are seeking to ban in the U.S.

Formal comments to Environment Canada on dispersant rulemaking

Aug. 2015. Technical comments by ALERT and others on Environment Canada rulemaking, requesting that screening protocols and environmental monitoring requirements be established, based on best available science and weight of evidence from past spills, prior to listing any spill treating agents or products for use in oil spill response.

Supplement to EPA petition

June 2014. Supplement to our original petition to EPA for NCP rulemaking, requesting among other things: a comprehensive update to address response measures for tar sands (non-buoyant) oil and fracking (explosive) oil; citizen advisory councils for area response plans; and provisions for protecting public health and worker safety – instead of only wildlife rescue and rehabilitation. Issues raised in our petition creates grounds for future legal action.

ALERT Report Provides Nexus to Implement EPA Dispersant Use Regulations

Jan. 23, 2024. Dr. Riki Ott’s report, “An Opportunity to Make it Right,” explains how EPA’s new rules for dispersant use during oil spill response (driven in part by ALERT’s lawsuitprovide an opportunity to institutionalize proactive state and local involvement in Area Committees to decide what dispersants to use, if any, during oil spill response. Ott recommends ways to get started, such as adopting precautionary guidelines and initiating a delisting process to prevent use of toxic dispersants during a 2-year transition period to safer products.

 

Amicus Letter Granted By Eleventh Circuit of Appeals

Jan. 12, 2024. Written by ALERT’s Dr. Riki Ott, the Eleventh Court of Appeals accepted an amicus letter written in support of the plaintiff-appellants in BP Deepwater Horizon BELO cases v. Lester Jenkins, et. al. Her amicus advocates for the reversal of the district court’s order excluding the expert testimony of Dr. Freeman and Dr. Solomon. Ott calls for a deeper understanding of the crucial science behind dispersant exposure; science that would protect first responders and the exposed public in future oil spills.

 

ALERT shares policy recommendations at EPA Listening Session

June 29, 2022. EPA invited ALERT’s coalition of environmental justice allies to a 2-hour Listening Session to share concerns relating to EPA’s oil spill preparedness and response programs from an environmental justice perspective. ALERT sent a follow-up report to EPA to document the 10 policy recommendations that framed our presentation and comments from our participants.

ALERT and allies request action from EPA

September 30, 2021.  Gulf coast community organizations and allies for environmental justice sent a letter to EPA Administrator Regan requesting four immediate actions in relation to ongoing dispersant litigation and the associated EPA rulemaking:

  1. Let the August 9, 2021, court decision stand – do not appeal it.
  2. Withdraw the final rule on monitoring for atypical dispersant use (issued July 27, 2021; effective January 22, 2022).
  3. Immediately reopen the 2015 rulemaking with a 45-day public comment period to include relevant science from 2015 to 2021.
  4. Issue one final rule in its entirety by the court-ordered deadline of May 31, 2023.

Science of human health harms from oil spill & dispersant exposures

Dec. 2018.  Expert comments by Riki Ott, PhD, on behalf of Canadian ally-intervenors opposing Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion Project. Summarizes studies from May 2015 to Dec. 2018, including finding from BP Deepwater Horizon studies. Follows May 2015 expert comments on the evolution of scientific understanding of human health harms from oil exposures.

 

Citizens request real change after BP Whiting oil disaster

July 2016. ALERT responded to a call from a multi-state coalition in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Minnesota, asking for technical assistance with comments to the EPA regarding the 2014 BP Whiting refinery oil spill into Lake Michigan (see blog post). We developed a model for future spill settlements, requesting maximum fines and a condition to fund a third tier of spill prevention and response for Lake Michigan involving local government and concerned citizens. These conditions are modeled after the Regional Citizens’ Advisory Councils and environmental monitoring that were required under the Oil Pollution Act of 1990 and that currently exist in Prince William Sound, Alaska, post Exxon Valdez oil spill.

UBCM Resolution A4

Sept. 2015. Union of British Columbia Municipalities acknowledge vital role that local emergency responders play in emergency preparedness and response for local oil and chemical spills, and call for provincial and federal governments to adequately fund and integrate local plans into regional response plans and to compensate local governments for response measures. Model for other communities seeking to engage in oil spill preparedness and response planning.

Formal comments on NCP rulemaking

April 2015. ALERT technical comments on EPA rulemaking, to request more decision-making authority for local governments, citizens and Tribes; banning use of products with toxic and/or proprietary ingredients; closing loopholes that negate the planning process; more stringent screening protocols and environmental monitoring requirements before and after product use; a public process for removing products that don’t work as intended; and clarification of definitions, based on current science, among other things.

Petition to EPA for NCP rulemaking

Nov. 2012. Comments by ALERT and others  to EPA for a formal rulemaking  to revise the National Contingency Plan’s policies regarding dispersant use. Our petition uses latest science to justify our demand to ban toxic dispersants and other chemicals in oil spill response. Protocol requires a two-year wait before further legal action.