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  • 13 Sep 2018 10:26 PM | Kate McLaughlin (Administrator)

    The Chugach National Forest is hosting public meetings around SC AK in the next couple weeks to discuss the new draft Forest Plan. The plan includes information on how lands in Prince William Sound and the Wilderness Study Area will be managed. Here's the schedule of meetings (each one is 5:30-7:00): 
    September 13 ................ Moose Pass – USFS Kenai Lake Work Center
    September 18 ...............Soldotna – Soldotna Regional Sports Complex
    September 19 ....... Cooper Landing – Cooper Landing Community Hall
    September 20 ..............................Seward – Seward Community Library
    September 24 ............. Girdwood – USFS Glacier Ranger District Office
    September 27 ................................................Cordova – Cordova Center
    October 9 .................................... Anchorage – USFS Supervisor’s Office
    October 11......................................... Valdez – PWS Community College

  • 09 Sep 2018 1:11 PM | Kate McLaughlin (Administrator)

    The Native Village of Eyak intends to solicit the Military through their Innovative Readiness Training Program to develop Shepard Point as an oil spill response facility. This 30 day public notice was released on Friday, August 31 in the Cordova Times. 

    PWSK's believes that the current oil spill response equipment location and fishing vessel response program works right where it is and doesn't need to be moved to Shepard Point. 

    Do you think that a new oil spill response facility needs to be built? 

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  • 21 Oct 2017 1:10 PM | Kate McLaughlin (Administrator)

    The October 20, 2017 edition of The Cordova Times features a front page article on the recent 'follow-up' visit from the Navy reporting on the spring's Operation Northern Edge's exercises in the North Gulf of Alaska, as well as several articles of personal interest to Eyak Corporation, the newspaper's owners.  

    The Navy article "NE17 used less ordinance than allowed" does a good job carrying water for the Navy, but greatly lacks reporting on the significant turn out to the public meeting held during a special Cordova City Council meeting, the varied interests attending, and the important questions and concerns raised. 

    A subsequent article discusses the recent approval by the Army Corp of Engineers for an oil spill response facility to be built at Shepard Point.  This is the 2nd week this particular piece was run in The Cordova Times.  This edition paired it with a supporting article written by Chugach Alaska Corporation. The Chugach Alaska article also mentions the Port Gravina gravel project, which PWSK opposed due to the clear conflict of EVOS 'protected' surface lands being put aside in favor of subsurface owner's rights - and the loss of a pristine area of Prince William Sound to non-renewable resource development. 

    A third article discusses Chugach Alaska's participation in the Bering River Coal fields sequestration, but does so without mentioning the significant work done by Eyak Preservation Council and other environmental advocacy groups to pave the way for this great victory in preserving our irreplaceable Copper River Delta watershed.  

    This issue of the Cordova Times clearly outlines the inherent conflict when a special interest owns a media organization and then generates articles shaped for its own benefit. Clearly, independent journalism suffers great harm, as does the public's right to be fully informed.  

  • 08 Dec 2016 7:30 AM | Kate McLaughlin (Administrator)

    Below is a letter submitted to Lieutenant General Kennneth S. Wilsbach, USAF Commander Alaska Command in regards to Operation Northern Edge and the proposed activities slated for spring of 2017 in the N. Gulf of AK.

    Dear Lt. General Wilsbach;

    Prince William Soundkeeper is a citizen advocacy organization dedicated to preserving and protecting the water quality and environment of Prince William Sound on behalf of all its users.  As such we must address the issues and impacts of Operation Northern Edge as it effects the North Gulf of Alaska and by extension Prince William Sound.

    In your letter to the Cordova City Council this past October it was stated that, “environmental protection is an integral component of preparations for NE17”.  You further stated that the US Navy has evaluated it activities in the 2013 Environmental Impact Study, and in the 2016 Gulf of Alaska Final Supplemental EIS.  These statements are not sufficient justification for holding the exercises as proposed, nor are they completely transparent or accurate, and do little to assure or persuade that the impacts of the Northern Edge exercises will not harm human health and the water quality that our precious marine resources and ecosystem depend upon. Supporting our concerns, the National Marine Fisheries Service disagrees with the Navy’s finding of “no significant impact” to fish and marine mammals.  

    The North Gulf of Alaska is one the most productive and relatively pristine fisheries and marine ecosystems remaining in the world.  Our world class fisheries not only drives and sustains a good portion of the economy of the Pacific Northwest, but also feeds a large portion of the world. 

    The following is a summary of how PWSK believes that the assertions regarding the impacts of Operation Northern Edge are inadequate, incomplete, and misleading. 

    Holding the Northern Edge exercises in May, during the peak of the spring migration would clearly have an impact on the marine wildlife already present, and those populations moving into the North Gulf of Alaska.  In the past exercises have been held during the winter months.  A compelling argument for holding them in the spring has not been made by the Navy.  Indeed numerous Federal Courts have stated that the location and timing can be altered.  From 1975- 2003 the trainings happened in the winter.  The Navy itself has stated that the trainings can be held later in the year, and their preferred alternative is for the training to take place between April-Oct. so why not hold them later in the year?  12 nautical miles is virtually on our very doorstep.  Water is not stationary and the deep, strong currents of the north Pacific pour themselves into Prince William Sound.

    There will be significant impact to fish (and by extension, human health) through various sources such as low frequency sonar, repeated explosions in the water column, and the use of severely toxic materials.

    It is a fact that the use of low-frequency sonar has a significant detrimental effect on marine mammals.  How the use of sonar affects fish is not known.  However, even when considering the timing and implementation of the exercises, it is the means and materials used that is even more concerning than just the use of sonar and bombing.

    The expended materials that are utilized and never recovered contain a host of heavy metals such as lithium, lead, mercury and depleted uranium.  These materials are known to be severely toxic at very low concentrations and are extremely persistent in the environment. Research on the effects of depleted uranium in marine environments has already established that exposure to environmentally relevant concentrations of uranium has negative impacts on fish embryogenesis and on fish reproduction.  Other sources of the hazardous materials released by the Navy include, according to its own EIS, propellant from aircraft, ships and ordnance, along with toxic components of fuel oils including aromatic hydrocarbons such as benzene, toluene, xylene, and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons such as naphthalene, acenaphthene and fluoranthene. In fact very little is known about the extent of disruption and damage caused in organisms exposed to these toxins.  The Navy’s own Final Environmental Impact Study states, “little is known about the very important issues of nonmorality damage in the short and long-term, and nothing is known about effect on behavior of fish.”

    These toxins are cumulative and bio-persistent, meaning that they are taken up and concentrated in the marine life that are exposed to them. The impacts to human health, in particular children, leading to neurodevelopment disabilities and other serious conditions, cannot be overstated.  Can Alaska and the Nation afford to contaminate our salmon, crab, halibut, cod and pollock fisheries?  Should our public health and ecosystem be sacrificed in order to hold war games in ways that have not proven to be necessary?  Combined with the devastating effects of warming waters in the Gulf of Alaska, further stressors such as those described here could have the potential to be the straw that broke the camel’s back when considering the health and productivity of the Gulf of Alaska’s ecosystem.

    As American citizens, as veterans, and family members of veterans, we certainly appreciate all that the armed forces have done, and are doing to keep our shores safe from threats.  However, we cannot ignore the intrinsic threat to our health and livelihoods that the North Edge exercises proposes, and by which past military activities throughout our Nation have proven, to have caused.  These are immediate and long-term negative impacts that will surely affect the citizens of our Nation.  On behalf of our constituency and the resource users of the Gulf of Alaska and Prince William Sound we ask that the military examine its needs closely and weigh them against the risks towards human health and the ecosystem we all need for a sustainable future.  Please consider moving the bulk of the activities to October, reducing the amount and types of sonar and munitions used, and to conduct in depth research into the impacts of the exercises on marine resources and water quality.  We ask the Navy and the Alaska Command to deeply consider how their activities are jeopardizing the economy, health and wellbeing of the citizens that they are sworn to protect.


    Kate McLaughlin, President & Executive Director

    cc:  The Honorable Mayor Clay Koplin and the City of Cordova Council Members

  • 12 Sep 2016 2:00 PM | Kate McLaughlin (Administrator)

    Joining 19 States, and reversing a decision by former Attorney General Craig Richards, Alaska’s new AG Jahna Lindemuth, filed an amicus brief concerning the proper forum for challenging a state’s right to investigate wrongdoing on behalf of its citizens, rather than seeking recourse in a federal court in another state.  This brief is related to states seeking to investigate whether Exxon participated in consumer fraud regarding climate change research.  Richards, then a member of “AG’s for United for Clean Power”, sent a letter asking other states to stop this investigation.  (Having resigned from the State AG’s office in June, Mr. Richards is now a state contractor dealing with oil and gas development issues, including the Alaska LNG Project.)  Stating that he needed more time to research the matter, Governor Walker has not said whether he still supports former AG Richards objections to the Exxon investigation.  PWSK has submitted a letter to AG Lindemuth regarding our support for the reversal of the State’s position in this brief, and we have urged her to endorse the request for Alaska to now join in the climate fraud investigation of Exxon (and other oil companies), and to rescind Alaska's signature from the June AG coalition letter in defense of Exxon.

  • 10 Feb 2016 12:02 AM | Kate McLaughlin (Administrator)

    One of the privileges of living in Southcentral Alaska is the proximity to Prince William Sound. At the heart of the Chugach National Forest, the Sound is a vast landscape of remote islands, ancient rainforest, wild salmon and towering glaciers and mountains. It is a recreational and ecological jewel and an economic engine for the region.

    Today, as the Chugach National Forest revises its management plan, those who love the Sound have an important opportunity to contribute to its care. The revision now underway only occurs every 15 years, so today’s decisions have lasting impact.

    Unfortunately, the U.S. Forest Service’s proposed plan would significantly weaken the Sound's protections that have been in place for over a generation. With vague language, it creates confusion about area management. This comes as the agency's reports state the area faces increased pressure and would benefit from clearer management. It also contradicts a 1994 Exxon Valdez oil spill recovery plan's goals to protect the area’s habitat, conservation, and wilderness values.

    It’s helpful to review some the Sound's history. In 1980, Congress set aside about 2 million acres in the western Sound as the Nellie Juan-College Fiord Wilderness Study Area. The purpose was to consider the area for permanent protection, which was widely supported.

    In the early 1980s, the Forest Service responded to this interim designation by committing to preserve the area’s wilderness character until Congress determines whether to finalize protections. The agency chose to model management after the 1964 Wilderness Act and provisions of the 1980 Alaska National Interest Lands Conversation Act.

    Under those models, codified in the Forest Service's Alaska region policy, the agency promised to leave the western Sound largely undeveloped, and allow its ecological processes to unfold naturally. It also assured a largely nonmotorized environment to protect habitat, scenery and solitude while honoring ANILCA provisions that allow airplanes, boats and snowmachines for “traditional activities.”

    For over three decades, this balanced approach has protected priceless opportunities for subsistence, fishing, hunting, camping, kayaking, hiking and much more. It has protected the salmon habitat that fuels the Sound’s commercial fishery. It has supported a booming recreation and tourism industry, evidenced by the water taxis, tour boats, kayak rentals, kayak tours, hunting charters, and personal vessels seen any summer day in Whittier and Valdez.

    In the Sound we have long-standing protections that carry ecological and economic value. With almost no one complaining, the Forest Service's task should be simple: don’t fix what ain’t broke.

    But instead, the agency proposes weakening protections. It proposes allowing personal-use timber harvests and new projects that manipulate soils, watersheds and habitat, with almost no standards or guidelines. It removes Forest Service regional policy and adopts vague language that may encourage more motorized use and development.

    The changes would threaten the area’s current character, which already faces pressure. By the Forest Service’s own account, visitation has ballooned since the 2000 opening of the Anton Anderson Memorial Tunnel in Whittier tunnel. Those familiar with the Sound’s idyllic beaches and anchorages see the increased litter, impacted campsites, unauthorized structures, crowding and widespread recreational use of chainsaws to senselessly fell trees for camp furniture or bonfires. Meanwhile, the state has allowed significant overhunting of black bears.

    Add to this what the Forest Service has authorized, including construction of hatcheries and communication sites and steady mineral exploration, even though the Sound’s economy rests in fishing, recreation and tourism. Under an extremely liberal reading of ANILCA, the agency may allow unlimited growth in snowmachines. It rarely enforces its own rules limiting chainsaws and other motorized equipment. It has even recently allowed U.S. Department of Agriculture wildlife services to kill most of the mink on Naked Island, hoping to possibly increase bird populations hurt by the 1989 spill.

    Furthermore, the Forest Service currently recommends Congress remove today’s protections from some of the Sound’s most recreationally and ecologically valuable areas. They include Columbia Glacier, Port Wells, Lake Nellie Juan and Knight, Culross, Esther, Perry, Glacier islands. The reasoning includes allowing mining, helicopter skiing/hiking, and tourism development (USFS 2002 record of decision, page 16).

    Today, the Forest Service needs to hear support for current protections. Instead of jeopardizing recreational and economic uses, it should:

    Recommit to the long-standing Alaska Region policy to preserve the area’s wilderness character, with clear language to leave it undeveloped, untrammeled and nonmotorized (boats, airplanes and snowmachines traffic would continue under ANILCA's "traditional activities").

    Follow the 1994 Exxon Valdez oil spill recovery plan's goals to restore the Sound’s recreation, wilderness and conservation values.

    Recommend Congress permanently protect Knight Island and the rest of the wilderness study area to secure today’s protections for the future;

    Recommend purchase of subsurface estate on all Exxon Valdez oil spill acquired lands and manage them for conservation and wilderness purposes, as stipulated in the purchase agreements.

    The Sound has provided for many of us. It has supported our subsistence and recreational pursuits and our recreation, tourism and fishing economies. It has given us lifelong memories with friends and family. Now it’s our turn to provide for the Sound by speaking up to support current protections. Public comment is allowed through Feb. 19.

    To speak with the Forest Service and others, come to the Chugach Town Hall from 6 to 8 p..m. Wednesday at the Anchorage Westmark Hotel. The event is sponsored by the local Sierra Club chapter and others.

    Read the proposed plan’s approach to the Sound online (pages 11, 14, 42-43 and 44-45). Comment on the plan online as well

    (Posted in Alaska Dispatch News by Chugach Wild, Kate McLaughlin and Dean Rand:

  • 15 Oct 2015 8:12 PM | Kate McLaughlin (Administrator)

    The longest running environmental litigation in history came to a sad conclusion today with the Government allowing Exxon to walk away from the Re-Opener Clause settlement.

    The Dept. of Justice learned their lesson from the EVOS settlement, the BP settlement included a provision for $700 million to be set aside in a trust that is NOT controlled by the defendant, nor can they dispute the claim made under the Re-Opener Clause. That was one of the major problems with EVOS re-opener clause, the other was the way they structured how the Restoration Plan was made, and its inflexibility in allowing new research to be considered.  

    Because of the way the settlement was designed, the fact that former Gov's Palin and Parnell never pursued the claim made in 2006, and the current state of politics today, the State and Federal government decided their best plan was to just walk away and claim that "recovery" has been made and any further restoration is unnecessary.  

    PWSK begs to differ. After all, how can the Sound be considered "recovered" when Pacific herring in Prince William Sound are NOT recovering?    A true travesty of environmental justice, not just for Prince William Sound, but for the Nation.

  • 14 Oct 2015 1:23 PM | Kate McLaughlin (Administrator)

    Exxon Valdez Oil Spill court hearing tomorrow (10/15) in Anchorage

    Thursday Oct. 15, 2015 - 10:00 AM, Courtroom #4

    US District Court, Federal Bldg., 222 West 7th Ave., Anchorage  

     The U.S. District Court will hold a “Status Conference” to receive an update and potential resolution from the parties – State of Alaska, U.S., and ExxonMobil – re: the long-standing government case pursuant to the Reopener for Unknown Injury provision of the 1991 Consent Decree (settlement) for the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill (EVOS). 

    Tomorrow's hearing may be the last court hearing on this historic case, as the Statute of Limitations likely expires on the case in June 2016.  Due to the lack of resolution of this Reopener case, the Exxon Valdez case is now the longest-lasting environmental litigation in history. 

     For background on the Reopener case, see: 

    A brief recap of where the EVOS Reopener case stands today:

    1991 (Oct.) – Consent Decree Reopener provision allows governments to claim additional $100 million from 2002-2006 for environmental damage not known at the time (but provision lacks requirement for judicial review if defendant Exxon refuses to pay);

    2002 (Sept. 1) - Reopener claim first becomes available to governments.  Anticipating problems in implementing the provision, Dr. Stiener filed an amicus motion seeking court appointment of a post-decree monitor to oversee implementation of the claim. Court denies motion as parties have placed nothing before it. 

    2006 – State and federal government submit Demand for Payment for $92 million to Exxon and Restoration Plan to re-mediate lingering toxic oil in beaches. Exxon refuses to pay, and governments fail to enter the claim in court;

    2010 (June 25) - Exxon terminates "tolling agreement" between parties, triggering statute of limitation period of 6 years in the case, ending in June 2016.

    2010 (Dec.)  – As none of the parties had acted to resolve the issue, and the statute of limitation clock was then started, Dr. Steiner filed an amicus motion asking court to order Exxon to pay the delinquent government demand + interest, court holds first (and to date only) hearing on the Reopener case March 2011, denies motion saying the Reopener claim is solely up to the government parties to place before the court.

    2011 – Exxon files motion asking court to dismiss Reopener case entirely, court denies motion.

    2011 to Present - Governments filed biannual updates with the court, stating they remain years behind their restoration schedule.  Exxon continues to refuse to pay, and governments refuse to enter claim in court. [Dr. Steiner filed several other amicus motions, all denied for the same reason - that it is solely up to the governments to enter the claim in court, which (unconscionably) they have not done.

    Although Exxon has not paid the 2006 government Reopener demand, the government Trustee Council has funds with which to commence the restoration work it committed to, but remains at least 5 years behind schedule at present, further delaying recovery.  Even though there was no requirement to do such, in 2007, after it became evident that Exxon refused to pay the government Demand, the Palin and G.W. Bush administrations should clearly have entered the claim in court, asking the court to order Exxon to pay.  They didn't, and nor have subsequent state and federal administrations. That is truly unconscionable.

    Thousands of gallons of still toxic Exxon Valdez oil remain in beach sediments of Prince William Sound (PWS).  The government's 2006 Reopener restoration plan proposed to bioremediate this lingering oil (with tilling and fertilizer), but they have yet to begin doing so.  The Plan committed that the additional Restoration work would be largely completed by now, yet actual remediation hasn't even begun. 

    Regarding the upcoming hearing, the governments wrote the court last spring thatThe Governments will make every effort to agree on and, if possible, initiate a course of action by that date.

    Thursday’s hearing has four potential outcomes. Government parties will either:

    1. Enter a settlement agreed with Exxon;

    2. Enter a disputed claim against Exxon;

    3. Announce they will drop any/all further action, ending the case;

    4. Take no action at this time, reserve right to file claim before next June (perhaps most likely outcome tomorrow).

    The governments (State of Alaska and U.S.) will be filing a "Status Report" likely today, which will almost certainly just continue their excuses as to why they have not moved the case forward. 

    If the governments take no action on the claim now, the opportunity to do so will expire next June.  Many feel the only just resolution at this point is for the governments to enter a claim in court for Exxon to pay the full 2006 demand ($92 million) + interest (9 years), for a total of about $142 million, and for the government Trustees to use this money in the highest and best interest of ecological recovery.

    The EVOS Trustee Council’s most recent (Nov. 2014) update on resources and services injured by the spill ( lists many populations as still not recovered from the 1989 spill, and four as “Not Recovering”: herring, guillemots, marbled murrelets, and the AT1 killer whale pod (now expected to go extinct due to the spill).  The lack of implementation of the legally binding EVOS Reopener provision epitomizes why the public has little trust in industry and government assurances of "responsible" oil development in Alaska. 

    The US DOJ apparently learned its lesson in their faulty Exxon Reopener, as its $20 billion BP settlement just announced for the Gulf spill requires up to $700 million to be set aside for unknown future damages, and the defendant (BP) will have no ability to object to this payment.  That was the principal mistake DOJ and the Alaska Dept. of Law made with the Exxon Reopener -- it allowed Exxon to simply not pay the demand.  

    The attorneys who negotiated the EVOS Reopener provision in 1991 (State of Alaska, the U.S. DOJ, and Exxon) knew, or should have known, that the provision was faulty, and would allow Exxon to essentially "opt-out."  Thus, they betrayed the public expectation and trust re: this critical provision specifically, and the Exxon Valdez settlement in general.  As such, we feel they should all be sanctioned by their respective Bar Associations.

    Regardless, had Exxon chosen to act responsibly, it simply would have paid the government Demand for Payment, and would do so now (plus interest), and be done with this case.  But Exxon is as far from an ethical institution as one can imagine.  

    For more than a quarter of a century, Exxon has denied the severity and extent of environmental injuries from the 1989 spill.  Over the same period, Exxon sponsored a deliberate misinformation campaign to fabricate doubt about the science behind the link between carbon emissions and climate change, even though its own internal documents show the company fully understood the relationship (  The campaign was/is much like that waged by the tobacco industry denying the link between smoking and cancer.  Some are now proposing that the Justice Department bring federal racketeering (RICO) charges against Exxon for this calculated and unconscionable betrayal of public interest ( 

    The Alaska Permanent Fund currently holds over $100 million in ExxonMobil stock, one of the Fund's five top stock holdings.  We continue to urge the Fund to divest its holdings in Exxon due to the company’s unethical behavior.

  • 06 Oct 2015 3:22 PM | Kate McLaughlin (Administrator)

    The 1991 Exxon Valdez Oil Spill settlement agreement included a provision entitled Re-Opener for Unknown Injury that allowed the state and federal governments to submit a claim for up to $100 million for damages not foreseen at the time of settlement.  Prince William Soundkeeper (PWSK) along with other environmental and advocacy organizations worked to prod the government to apply for the provision in 2006.  Governor Murkowski's Attorney General found that “After extensive review, it is clear that populations and habitat within the spill area have suffered substantial and unanticipated injuries that are attributable to the Exxon Valdez oil spill,” and the State presented jointly with the US Government to ExxonMobil a demand for payment of $92,240,982.  

    Neither the State nor the Federal Government have pursued the fact that for 9 years ExxonMobil has ignored the request and no payment has been made.  Resolutions to the Alaska State Legislature were submitted in 2014 and 2015 urging the State to compel ExxonMobil to pay what they legally owe by Representatives Gardner and Josephson respectively.  The Resolutions were ignored during session

    During their September board meeting in Kodiak, the Prince William Sound Regional Citizen’s Advisory Council introduced, and voted unanimously in favor of, a Resolution in support of the EVOS Re-Opener for Unknown Injury Clause.  “A Resolution supporting habitat restoration pursuant to damages caused by the 1989 Exxon Valdez Oil Spill.”  The Resolution simply urged, “a meeting between the United States, the State of Alaska, Exxon, Inc., and the EVOS Trustees Council in an effort to reach agreement on implementation of the 2006 plan.”   This Resolution was submitted in person to the Governor.

    Federal District Court Judge Holland has ordered a hearing on Oct. 15, 2015.  Regarding the upcoming hearing, the government has told the court that:  "The governments will make every effort to agree on and, if possible, initiate a course of action by that date."

    The hearing is scheduled for 10 a.m. in Courtroom #4, Federal District Court, 7th Avenue, Anchorage, AK.  PWSK along with Professor Rick Steiner will be attending.  

  • 27 Apr 2015 3:25 PM | Kate McLaughlin (Administrator)
    Comments are due May 8 on a request for an ALASKA POLLUTANT DISCHARGE ELIMINATION SYSTEM (APDES) PERMIT for the VALDEZ WASTEWATER TREATMENT FACILITY in the Port of Valdez. The proposed MIXING ZONE IS IN ESSENTIAL FISH HABITAT. Permit documents can be accessed at:

    For more information or to submit comments, contact Mike Martz at 907-269-8198 or email:

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