March 28 was the 13th anniversary of the worst environmental disaster in U.S. history – the Exxon Valdez oil spill. When it ran aground, the Exxon-owned Valdez tanker spilled more than 11 million gallons of oil into Alaska’s Prince William Sound.
Now, 13 years after the catastrophe, severe fallout such as the damage of the herring industry are still present. At the time of the spill in 1989, Congress was contemplating opening the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge for oil exploration; however, the spill quickly put this issue to rest.
In 2002, Congress has revived the issue to allow drilling in the remaining 5 percent of Alaska’s undisturbed northern coastline. Perhaps Congress ought to recall the devastation of the Valdez when considering the issue of drilling in the refuge in the coming weeks.
The future looks bleak for sea otters and humans alike, judging from the slow demise of the Democratic Senate’s Energy Bill.
Congress has rejected to raise fuel economy standards two weeks ago and is whittling down the renewable standards for the nation’s energy future. The refuge remains a line in the sand for environmentalists, as it should for anyone that recalls the destruction caused by the oil industry 13 years ago or has any common sense for America’s legacy of natural beauty.