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That, I understand, is really the extent of their investigation. Never has the Department of the Interior asked for or sought direct communications with the Canadian Government through appropriate channels. Perhaps that would be Department of State.
As a consequence it is very difficult to say what the problems would be, political problems in Canada or the financial problems because our Government has never attempted to find out.
Now, with regard to the delay, I think it should be borne in mind, as Mr. Brandborg indicated, that there is a consortium of oil companies that was studying for years the possibility of bringing in a pipeline from Prudhoe Bay across Canada. It is comprised of many of the same members that are in Alaska.
Second, in regard to the delay, as I am sure everyone is aware, there are substantial issues left unresolved as to whether the Secretary of the Interior has complied with his obligations under the National Environmental Policy Act to develop and to study alternatives, particularly the alternative of a trans-Alaska-Canada corridor. That could cause delay of a substantial period of time also.
Senator HASKELL. Will the Senator yield?
Senator HASKELL. This brings me to the point I asked Mr. Smith. Don't you have a couple of additional strings to your bow under NEPA? Wasn't that the purpose of NEPA? Didn't the Circuit Court of Appeals say we don't have to decide whether the statement was accurate or inaccurate? The preliminary decision was based solely on the width of the pipeline. Furthermore, even if the environmental statement was found to take in everything under consideration, aren't there still private rights of action?
Mr. HILLYER. Well, Senator Haskell. I would like to say yes, there are procedures which can be explored in court and there is a substantial issue as to whether the Secretary has complied.
I think the society's position is in accord with that of Mr. Smith's earlier testimony, that because of the enormity and the diversity of the issues raised by the Trans-Alaska Pipeline case which involved fundamental national policies of energy, where it should go, to the Midwest or elsewhere, of the environment and how you
make tradeoffs between those two, that the magnitude of these issues demands, cries out for congressional resolution and the obligations of the National Environmental Policy Act to bring out for consideration the environmental facts of the proposal don't bestow upon the Secretary of the Interior the competence to make the delicate tradeoffs and formulations of national policy that are called for by the Trans-Alaska Pipeline cases.
Senator HASKELL. Thank you.
I think, if I could attempt to summarize, and I recognize the risks in that, Mr. Brandborg, you are saying that under certain conditions, optimum, I might insert on my own, you think it is possible that a resolution of the problems and the necessity inter-governmental commitments between our Nation and our sister Republic of Canada, could
result in agreement so as to clear the way for a trans-Alaska-Canada pipeline within a year's time?
Mr. BRANDBORG. I might extend that to a year and a half, but essentially my answer is yes, providing that the Congress requires the collection to fully develop the economic and environmental questions and alternatives that are connected with the Canadian alternatives.
I believe if such an exposition could have data from an unbiased source not the Department of Interior obviously—and was brought to the Congress, to this committee, we would see remarkable progress within a period of 112 years. I would hope that it would be shorter than that.
I believe we could get over this roadblock and discontinue this impasse.
Senator HANSEN. I have no further questions.
Of course, some of the other matters you haven't touched on and we are not going to inquire about here as to the feasibility of the Alaska pipeline. It may be a subject matter of future hearings.
Mr. BRANDRORG. Mr. Chairman, Mr. Hillyer has a brief prepared remark.
Senator HASKELL. Mr. Hillyer, go ahead.
Mr. HILLYER. I don't need to go into the prepared text, I don't believe, since some of what I have to say has already been said.
I am representative for the Cordova District Fisheries Union, membership comprised of 450 commercial fishermen who depend on the waters of Prince William Sound for their livelihood and for their way of life.
I might say at the outset that we fully support the statement and testimony of Mr. Brandborg and I won't repeat any of that.
Unfortunately for the fishermen, the oil companies have routed their pipeline down to Valdez on Prince William Sound, and if it is acted upon will transform Prince William Sound into one of the world's busiest oil ports overnight.
The resulting pollution, both chronic pollution and the risk of large spills from casualties, threatens to destroy the fisheries.
In addition to the comments made by Mr. Brandborg, I would like to focus on a couple of more narrow issues that are of special interest to the fishermen.
This is picking up on the bill introduced by Senator Jackson, S. 1081. This is in line really with the earlier testimony this committee heard from the Alaska Federation of Natives.
We feel that the liability of the operators of the pipeline contained in section 5 (g) and read together with 6-H which I believe is the section that the natives were addressing themselves to should be clarified so as to read that the fishermen who depend on Prince William Sound for their fisheries are indemnified against loss to their fisheries resulting from the transfer of the oil from the pipeline to the tanker and any resulting casualties or chronic pollution such as pumping ballast water out into the sound.
Second, in regard to section 6 of S. 1081, Senator Jackson's bill, which sets forth
the subject that can be treated through terms and conditions attached to permits for rights-of-way, we think the language should be clarified so as to insure the Secretary has the authority to attach stipulations to a right-of-way permit that would be designed to maximize the safety of the entire delivery system for which the right-of-way permit is sought.
That would include the marine transport component of the proposed trans-Alaska pipeline system as well as the pipeline itself.
My understanding is that even though the Department of the Interior has proposed elaborate stipulations that would cover the design of the pipeline itself and would be attached to any pipeline permit, it has yet to formulate any stipulations that would similarly regulate the type of tanker equipment used.
As a result there are no assurances really that the companies will be obligated to use the best equipment available.
One last thing I would like to say before I leave.
This morning I heard some news that I tried to follow up on that I think was sort of a red flag to warn everyone of the gravity of the situation. That is that sometime in the last 24 hours there was a tanker ship that ran aground near the western end of the Alaska peninsula. It is estimated that the spill, resulting spill, right now is around 210,000 gallons of diesel fuel and gasoline. The circumstances of the grounding are not yet known, at least not to me.
The Coast Guard has undertaken an investigation. However it quite possibly will be determined subsequently that this grounding resulted in part from the adverse climatic and navigable conditions of the Northeast Pacific through which the marine transport system for the Alaska pipeline is also routed.
Secondly, even though right now there is extremely light tanker traffic, infrequent tanker traffic of any kind in the Northeast Pacific, there are still these mishaps.
I think it can be concluded that when this route is turned into one of the world's busiest oil routes their frequency will increase.
Senator HASKELL. Thank you.
STATEMENT OF SAUNDERS C. HILLYER
Representative of the Cordova District Fisheries Union
Before the Senate Committee on Interior and Insular Affairs, March 9, 1973 Washington, D.C., concerning legislation providing for rights-of-way across the public lands.
Mr. Chairman, I am Saunders C. Hillyer, a representative for the Cordova District Fisheries Union in southern Alaska.
From the beginning we have been following the proposed trans-Alaska pipeline matter with obvious interest because of its threat to commercial
In April, 1971, we flled a companion suite to Wilderness Society,
et al., v. Morton, Nos. 72–1796-98, D.C. Cir. (February 9, 1973) which is
the directive of the Chairman that witnesses not address themselves "to the desirability and routing of the trans-Alaska Pipeline," I will not elaborate on the energy and environmental issues raised by the proposed trans-Alaska
pipeline. However, because of the special focus of the fis
ermen, it is
germane to briefly describe the circumstances that have given rise to their
concern about rights of way.
The Cordova District Fisheries Union is comprised of approximately 450 comercial fishermen, all of whom fish the waters of Prince William Sound in southern Alaska. Their major fisheries products include several species
of salmon and crab as well as shell fish, herring and shrimp.
the wholesale value of fishery products in the Cordova area was $13 million.
The value to the fishermen of these products was a little over $6.5 million.
Not only is the membership economically dependent on the now abundant
marine life in Prince William Sound, but their entire way of life evolves
around their benign relation to the sea.
Their activities are compatible
with the extensive use now made of the area by recreationists for salt and
fresh water fishing, sightseeing, and photography. Both the fishermen and
recreationists enjoy the Sound's wildlife including porpoises,
and sea lions, the beauty of the rugged shoreline scalloped by bays and fjords,
and its backdrop of steep mountains that creep down to the water's edge.
Unfortunately for the fishermen, the oil companies that have proposed
the trans-Alaskan pipeline chose, for reasons of their own, the town of
Valdez on Prince William Sound to be the southern terminus for their pipeline.
They further propose to load the 2 million barrels per day throughput of
that pipeline on to tankers to be carried through Prince William Sound and
the Northeast Pacific to the west coast of the United States and foreign
Thus, in the short span of a few years, this quiet Sound will be
converted into one of the world's busiest oil ports.
The resulting oil
pollution would cause massive destruction to the commercial fisheries.
Because of the inadequate knowledge currently available, it is impossible
to fathom either the duration or full scope of this damage. However, the
Final Environmental Impact Statement did recognize that the entire Sound
would be jeopardized and that the salmon fisheries in Valdez Arm, alone,
would suffer loses in the neighborhood of $400,000 per year for each year
of the life of the pipeline (FIS, Vol 4, pp 432-433.)
It is clear that the fishermen of Prince William Sound are expected
to absorb severe loses if not total dislocation as a result of the decision
made a few years ago to run a pipeline right of way across the entire state
of Alaska to Valdez.
This shock has spurred us to review the legislation
authorizing the Secretary of the Interior to grant oil pipeline rights
of-way permits across public lands.
In particular, we are concerned that
any such legislation contain safeguards adequate to protect the public interest