Alaska editorial: Don't wait until more disasters happen

Posted: Monday, December 19, 2005

This editorial first appeared in the Anchorage Daily News:

Enough dithering. It has been a year since the Selendang Ayu ran aground in the Aleutians and showed Alaskans the hazards posed by heavy shipping traffic in the region. When vessels sail through an area where 100 mph winds regularly stir up 50-foot waves, trouble is bound to follow.

There are plenty of lessons to be learned from the Selendang Ayu, which caused the second-worst oil spill in Alaska history, but authorities don't seem interested enough in learning them. Alaskans have heard some talk about the Coast Guard or some other agency leading a comprehensive "risk assessment" of shipping in the region, but that's all it has been - talk.

The time for talk is past. Show us the money. Show Alaskans the $2 million that's needed to do the risk assessment and point the way to new shipping safety measures.

Sen. Ted Stevens still has clout in the Capitol, Rep. Don Young knows the Coast Guard and maritime safety issues well, and Sen. Lisa Murkowski is an up-and-comer, looking for issues to advance Alaska's interests.

Gov. Frank Murkowski endorsed the Aleutian shipping risk assessment in this year's State of the State speech. Fifty-dollar a barrel oil gives the state plenty of money to bankroll the study if the feds won't.

Those four politicians give Alaska four powerful forces to get this critically important study going, and soon.

How about it, senators? Congressman? Governor?

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