The Oil Pollution Act of 1990 (Section 5002) found that effective citizen engagement and oversight of energy operations is critical to the proper function of industry, government, and civil society. The Act created two Regional Citizens’ Advisory Councils in Alaska after the Exxon Valdez oil spill and noted that “similar programs should eventually be established… [in other areas] where the safe transportation of crude oil is a national problem.” In particular, the Prince William Sound RCAC has been an extraordinary example of ordinary citizens working together to hold the oil industry accountable to the people and reduce the risk of accidents from oil industry activities.

We believe “eventually” is now and that similar programs – independent of oil industry control – are needed in regions at risk of oil activities such as the multi-state transportation corridors for tar sands pipelines or crude-by-rail ways. ALERT is working to inform concerned citizens within these at-risk regions of the existing legal authority to form such teams. We provide skills and training to help citizens organize to have a meaningful voice in oil activities in their region and to advocate citizen advisory councils as part of the currently ongoing revision process to the National Contingency Plan.

For more information of the specific responsibilities and duties of the Citizens’ Advisory Councils, please review our petition supplement to EPA, proposed revisions to the National Contingency Plan, Section 300.206. We appreciate feedback on this document!