tv Alaskan Oil Spill News Conference CSPAN March 24, 2019 9:33am-10:01am EDT
1989, the exxon valdez oil tanker struck a reef in alaska's prince william sound and spilled 11 million gallons of crude oil. george h.w. bush was president at the time. heldd several cap members a briefing to give an update on the government's response. taking questions from reporters are defense secretary dick cheney, samuel skinner and william reilly carried this portion is a -- william reilly. this portion is about 25 minutes. statement and will be glad to take a few questions and then refer them to our experts here. virtually every american is familiar with the tragic environmental disaster in alaskan waters. and more than ten million gallons of oil have been spilled with deadly results for wildlife and hardship for local citizens. we all share the sorrow and
concern of alaskans and its determination to mount a sustained cleanup effort. our ultimate goal must be the complete restoration of the ecology and the economy of prince william sound. including all of its fish, marine mammals, birds and other wildlife. the exxon corporation has acknowledged responsibility for this spill and its liability for the damages. exxon should remain responsible for both damages and for employing civilian personnel. necessary to control further damage. however, exxon's efforts standing alone are not enough. and after consulting with the congressional delegation, senator ted stevens, senator frank murkowski, congressman don young, i have determined to add additional federal resources to the cleanup effort.
in addition of the considerable for federal personnel and equipment already on the scene. this new effort will focus on the job of helping recover all -- oil now in the water and restoring beaches and other damaged areas. this effort should not in any way relieve exxon from any of its responsibilities or its liabilities. i've asked sam skinner, our secretary of transportation to serve as the coordinator of the efforts of all federal agencies involved in the cleanup and to alaskanh the authorities and exxon. admiral paul yost of the comment -- admiral paul yost of the coast guard will return to alaska to serve. he will assume the personal oversight of developments as we
all know the coast guard has many assets in place right now. also at my direction, defense secretary dick cheney will make available u.s. armed forces personnel and equipment to assist in the cleanup. the military will provide personnel for direct cleanup activities as well as assisting with logistics, the needs of logistics all related to the cleanup. and of course these efforts must be undertaken carefully so that further damage to fragile areas will not occur. intensive planning now going on as well as appropriate cleanup. -- cleanup training will be completed before ground units are actually deployed. in addition to the department of defense personnel, i've asked my staff to develop plans to enable participate in cleanup activity. by summer we hope to have developed facilities to unable -- enable us to accommodate a core of alaskan volunteers. and when i say develop facilities, these gentlemen will tell you, we are dealing with very remote areas in some cases here. i've asked e.p.a. administrator
bill reilly to- coordinate the long range planning to restore the environment of the sound. e.p.a. will draw on the expert of leading scientists and i will spill experts in this work and also consult with other federal agencies that are assessing scientific data regarding the effects of the spill. we will not forget the residents of alaska who have suffered extraordinary economic loss. and when you talk to these congressman as i have and get it brought home on a case by case basis we have to be concerned. , and we are concerned. in addition to paying damage claims against it, we encourage exxon to increase its local hiring for the cleanup efforts. secretary skinner will also work with exxon and appropriate agencies to develop appropriate loan assistance programs to assist those who have suffered economic injury. this situation has demonstrated
the inadequacy of the existing contingency plans. and consequently i have directed a nationwide review of contingency plans of this type. -- type to determine improvements that may be necessary. in describing these measures we , should not be under any illusions. the job of cleaning up the oil from both the sea and the affected land areas will be massive, prolonged and frustrating. nothing we can do will totally resolve this problem in the short term, rather we must be prepared for a long sustained effort. learning from this experience, we also rededicate ourselves to transportation safety and to realistic planning for accidents that do occur. at the same time, our national security interest in the domestic energy supplies should not be forgotten.
the excellent safety record that was recorded prior to this incident must be restored and maintained consistently. -- consistently into the future. i really do have to run and i will just turn this over now to sam skinner and the congressman and senators. hope -- we want to help and we care about what is happening in alaska. >> we have already begun immediately to implement the president's program. with the department of defense resources which secretary cheney will talk about in a minute. we have art he met with the exxon people and will be meeting with him again this afternoon. full-scale. we are moving full-scale ahead on the president's directive.
we are totally committed to do everything we can to restore the alaskan area around prince william sound in any other areas affected to as close to nature as possible. >> will be very brief. obviously, our role at the pentagon in this effort is a supporting one. think it's important that people realize we have been actively involved already. we have had a large number of flights into the area to move equipment. there will be a team leaving today to see what additional support and systems we can provide. all of this will be under command of general mcinerney, who is a three-star air force general on the scene there in alaska on a regular basis as well. the kind of things we think we can be helpful in is to establish control, coordinate activities in the area. we plan to send a command and
control platform to valdez, the main community up there. there is very little housing available to new people into the area. we think we can get these ships into the region to house, and provide comfort for those involved. we will establish and on the scene task force in valdez and see what we can do in terms of building up transportation resources. my mandate is to do whatever we can to be helpful, and certainly i will do my best. as you know, the environment of prince william sound is an extraordinarily rich one in terms of sea life, in terms of birdlife, sea mammals and commercial fisheries. we want to restore it to what it has been. it has obviously suffered a very serious blow. we have no way of knowing or assessing at this time how enduring the impact will be. the president has directed that
i courtney the planning for the recovery -- coordinate the planning for the recovery of the sound. it will probably be sometime several months before we have even a preliminary idea of what we are looking at here. the overall assessment will take three years. one of my first jobs is going to be to bring to bear on this problem a group of scientists. we are looking around the world for the very best scientific resources that are available, people who have dealt with significant oil spill's before. we want to bring that expertise to bear on this problem. >> questions? >> can you clarify -- what is the president saying, has exxon already agreed to help? >> exxon is pouring millions of dollars a day into alaska right now in support of the effort coordinated by the coast guard. i meeting with them to discuss
the cost related to this additional effort at the request of the senators and congressmen from alaska. we have begun to explore with exxon as well as the federal government other possibilities small, economic loans or no interest loans available to the people that may be injured as a result of their disaster there. this effort is a coordinated effort. i can't give you a precise number on dollars. i think it is important to isognize the president committed to restoring that area as close as we can to its original condition, the unitedes of states government have been put at my disposal to make sure that happens, and i plan to use them. >> the last time you were here, you stated that you found that it was almost unbelievable that this taker could have run
aground, given it was going through a 10 mile wide area. are you satisfied that the alleged intoxication of the or other circumstances? >> almost moments after the vessel with the ground, i have to national transportation safety board to investigate this marine casualty. that is is that the coast guard would normally have done, but because the coast guard had a vessel in the area, i have to national transportation safety board to do it. when we get the results of that investigation, we will know a lot more than we know now. that is all that i can tie your not issue. -- tell you on that issue. >> let's try to coordinate this. secretary cheney, i noticed there are a couple of essence for him. what theu tell us
president meant when he said that military personnel would be involved in the actual cleanup at health? -- itself? >> in terms of providing transportation support, housing, trying to move in figures ships move amphtrying to ibious ships to the area. it may involve as well the direct involvement of the u.s. military personnel and cleanup just as they were involved previously in fighting the forest fires in yellowstone last year. i don't know enough this morning to be able to say to you, these are the specific task they will perform, but we will do our best to help. >> which military branch? >> at this point, nearly everybody is involved. admiral yost is effectively on the scene, ahead of the operation. general mcinerney is chairman of the joint task force in alaska. he will be in the area in
immediate control. the director of military support here in washington at the pentagon, general smith will be involved in coordinating. it is a unique incident in alaska in terms of the environmental disaster that has occurred. this kind of military support to deal with the domestic problem has oftentimes occur before. i have a long list of examples. that is basically what we will do now. >> how many people i talking about? >> i don't have an answer to that. >> can you tell me who is in charge of the cleanup? exxon or the federal government? >> i will turn it over to sam skinner. know, one of the major objectives was to offload the tinker that had 40 million gallons of fuel. that has now been done as a
result of the offloading operations and conversations we have had in the last two days. the coast guard has taken a greater role in the overall cleanup. they will have a more significant role. yost and vice admiral robbins will be going to new orleans in the near future. the coast guard is the overall for nader. -- coordinator. of the military branches will be supporting them. >> do you think the federal government should take over at least part of this? are you satisfied down? -- now? >> i'm satisfied that the president has come forward and given us considerable portion of their quest that we made to him and his staff in the cabinet people here. overll have great concern
the oil spill going out of prince william sound heading towards kodiak. admiral yost's demand man that we have absolute confidence in. we are pleased to see that he will be coordinating this effort now. we have never asked for federalization. we've asked for federal control of the further actions that must be taken. we feel there are at least 2 million gallons still going towards kodiak. we must try to do something about the. that, i don't know if you know the extent to which secretary cheney has already been involved. he has 100 naval officers working for paul joost now, naval personnel. they have 22 scammers out there. probably three fourths of the navy's skimmer fleet is up there now. we had a tremendous increasing effort in the last three days. we are pleased to see this increased effort. we still have a request that it be an emergency declared under the stafford act.
the department of justice has reservations about that we are pursuing them. ofstill have the question who is going to be in control of the review of these contingency plans. i'm discussing that with mr. illy and i believe it will be worked out. yesterday and today, i believe is the difference between night and day in regards to the federal presence in dealing with this massive disaster. the earthquake lasted foour minutes. this is what to last years in terms of the recovery. ellen in the back to you. >> about a week ago, your colleagues set exxon was doing well. what happened? >> we have no offload the vessel and we now have had the flow, and we have seen the flow of --l and oil further than we
not anticipated. this effort have to change. we are now beginning to address the long-range cleanup of the islands and land that has been damaged. this is something that senator stevens pointed out will go on for months. beginning. now is it wasn't appropriate to begin it at the time because all the resources were dedicated towards containing and getting the oil off the tanker. we are now moving to a new phase. that new phase is to begin the cleanup of the islands that have been affected. that is the effort that the department of defense is going to support, along with the coast guard and citizens of alaska and other people. president has personally indicated he wants civilian involvement, maybe youth involvement this spring and summer. the mission has changed because we have gone through one phase and moving into another phase. the commandant of the coast guard is now set by you to be the overall head of the effort in light of the enlarged federal
presence here. why do you resist saying this effort has been federalized? >> it has been a significant increase. the word federalization is a word of art that may have statutory connotations. the important thing to recognize is that there is a significant increase in federal effort. we avoid the use of the were federal west because of legal connotations. i might add on that issue, i spoke to governor cooper last night. he indicated to me that he is for more coordination and more support along the lines that indicated. he did not ask for federalization. his letter was inaccurate in that request. if you have been reporting he asked for federalization, he is not asking for federalization. what is your position on liability? returningiable for
the environment to near pristine condition and will exxon be asked to foot part of the bill for the federal effort? >> oh yes. exxon has already been spending millions of dollars a day. we're talking about additional support from exxon. has beenator reilly discussing with them the efforts that need to be made to restore the environment. they had acknowledged liability and are working with us in putting funds available to restore, recover and repair and all of that is going on a concerted basis with the coast guard. >> when you were here last week, mr. riley said he mentioned to exxon that they should take on the added responsibility of cleaning up the beaches and doing the extra work to get it to a more natural state. as i recall, the response to you was that it was an interesting idea. suggested that you are referring to is that they consider establishing a fund for
alaskan conversation -- conservation that would go well beyond this period. that is a different matter from the cleanup itself in which they have invested i think something like 350 or so people currently working on beach cleanup that are working for exxon. we feel that is not enough. we think the size of this large scalee very in which we are operating in prince william sound is going to require a lot more people than an intensified effort. on this review of the contingency plan, let me ask you specifically what steps you plan to take to review the plan. in a broader context, a review that is already underway looking at the ability of drilling off the california coast. with specific steps are you going to take? >> those are two different issues. the national response team is
now beginning to look at contingency plans for oil spills really around the country. given what we have learned here about the obvious inadequacy about the plan that step.d, that is an urgent at thek force is looking feasibility of protecting the environment adequately, of ensuring that we can go forward with those leaseholds off the coast of california and florida. i think that that effort already have a very strong expression of presidential concern. the administration is forgoing million in the sale of revenues this year. we already were giving every bit of attention we could to making
sure that that extremely important environment, the very sensitive areas were protected, and if they cannot be adequately protected, we will not go forward with those sales. >> and i to understand that you have no idea how long it is going to take and how much it is pentecost? -- how much it is going to cost? the department of defense met yesterday in this meeting today to assess what realistic support is necessary. we have a pledge from the president and secretary of defense to have that support made available. -- clearly, there will be a significant increase in the effort. point untilat this the assessment team has been on the team and has come back to us, would be in my opinion ill-advised.
we will be making that assessment and putting the program together. wants to have it together in the not-too-distant future, we will be back to you. the important thing to recognize, the team is on its way today and will be back and we will have a complete program put together early next week. we will then begin to deploy it as it makes sense. we're not going to put people up there until they are equipped and trained and ready to do it. thank you very much. last question? under coast guard comes dod. is this such a national emergency to even discuss the possibility of the coast guard coming? >> this is a major civilian disaster and is being treated as such by the president. it is not a national military disaster that would call for federalization of the coast guard. thank you. >> you are watching "american history tv" all weekend every weekend on c-span3.
to join the conversation, like us on facebook. this weekend on "american history tv," "washington post" columnist sits down with tim b erners-lee to talk about how he became to invent the world wide web 30 years ago. what seems a when we go back and read the toughest or he is your desire to have something that was flat and nonhierarchical, that wouldn't have a command, it wouldn't have that top-down structure, but that there would be links to allow you to access things the way the brain accesses information. did that threaten anybody? when you have a flatter system in the hierarchy to tell you yes you can do that or no, people
are sometimes threatened. did you get pushed back? decentralized is the work we are using now for the aspect of the web. permissioninternet -- i didn't have to ask myself. saw a person,ou there were a few people who were upset because their version of all the documentation with that everybody should put all of the data on their machine. it should all go on the mainframe and be converted into a particular format. it should go into microsoft word or html. there were huge number of systems where people invested a lot of their career in building something where everybody have to do it their way. also the structure, some of the have a hierarchical structure
you have to fit in. some of them have a matrix structure you have to fit in, but always you have to fit into structure. looking at the reason people just refuse to go along with those systems was because people wanted to have there is structure. if you want to, make entry, you can do that with hypertext links. -- mapped waited for the treatment and everybody could sit happy in their matrix or tree, whichever they found useful. they could all be connected into the wider web, but the wider web always has to be a web. web, it would link anything to anything. >> watched the entire conversation with computer scientist tim lee this sunday at 9:00 p.m. eastern. you are watching american history tv, all weekend, every
weekend on c-span3. wynn talks about the life of clara barton whose work as a field nurse during the civil war earned her the nickname angel of the battlefield. barton'siscusses inspiration for creating the missing soldiers office as a way to help families locate loved ones who had gone missing during the war. this talk was part of a daylong seminar cohosted by longwood university and appomattox courthouse national historical park. >> our second presentation this morning is by jake wynn. director of interpretation of the clara barton missing soldiers office museum. also the national museum