Longtime outspoken environmental activist Bob Shavelson has lost his seat on oil oversight group Cook Inlet Regional Citizens Advisory Council this week for publicly criticizing the group's decisions.
"From my perspective, it has simply become a mouthpiece for government and industry," Shavelson said. "If that's the case, then they don't serve as an independent advisory council."
During a special executive session, the board determined Shavelson had negatively commented on the council, violating the non-profit's standards of conduct for "Participation in Conferences, Meetings and Other Public Forums." The policy reads, "officers shall refrain from making disparaging comments about the Cook Inlet RCAC organization, or about positions taken by the council, in public or in a manner which may lead to public dissemination of such comments."
"It is important for all of the special interest groups, including the environmental organizations, to have a voice on our Council," Council President Grace Merkes stated in a press release. "However, each Council member is expected to adhere to the rules of our organization."
Council member Robert Peterkin said that Shavelson had been warned in the past for speaking against decisions made by the board of directors.
"When you're on the board of directors and part of that process, you have to respect the decision of the board," Peterkin said.
"He's a good guy," he said. "He just wasn't following protocol."
Shavelson's outspoken criticism of a CIRCAC report on safeguards at the Drift River Oil Terminal in the wake of Mount Redoubt's eruption in 2009, was a example that stuck out to Peterkin.
The terminal, 22 miles downriver from the volcano, stores oil extracted from platforms on the Cook Inlet. Shavelson stated at a board meeting last June that the council didn't answer questions pertaining to safeguards at the facility. He said that the report omitted that the council had been negotiating with Chevron, which owns the terminal, for funding during the incident.
"I felt I had a moral obligation to speak out, and I'd do it again," said Shavelson.
In his opinion, the council has become increasingly complacent, and he described it as "broken."
According to a press release, the organization will start the election process for Shavelson's replacement in October. Environmental organizations will nominate his replacement.
Tony Cella can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.