Oil Spill Preparedness: Is Everyone Ready?

Veda plays a key role in helping the west coast states and British Columbia prepare for oil spills.

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Executive Coordinator, Oil Spill Task Force

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Pacific States/British Columbia Oil Spill Task Force


The Exxon Valdez spill in 1989 was a wakeup call on how the U.S. handles oil spills. Shortly after the spill occurred, the Governors of Alaska and Washington, and the Premier of B.C. formed a fledgling task force to figure out how to better prepare and respond to a spill. California, Oregon and Hawaii later joined, forming the Pacific States/British Columbia Oil Spill Force (Task Force). Since 2012, Veda Environmental has been serving as Executive Coordinator of the Task Force, helping the five western coastal states and the Province of British Columbia collaborate in preventing and preparing for oil spills.


As Executive Coordinator Veda facilitates discussions among the Task Force members on policy, research, planning and outreach on oil spill issues. Veda also engages federal, state, tribal and industry stakeholders to address new and emerging oil spill challenges such as the risk of spills from railroads, and how to respond to new oil products.


As Executive Coordinator, Veda works with the Task Force members to collaborate with stakeholders, organize and host meetings and forums, lead studies and special projects, and manage the organization’s outreach team. Veda is currently facilitating and leading a transboundary effort aimed at improving the capacity of the U.S. and Canada to respond to spills along their borders. Veda leads the development of the Annual Workplans, 5-year Strategic Plans and writes Annual Reports and other outreach information targeted to stakeholders and the public.


The Task Force is unique in that no other organization like it exists elsewhere in the country. It’s strong reputation dates back to 1990 when Task Force members were instrumental in the creation of the Oil Pollution Act, the nation’s first set of regulations to improve the safety of marine oil transport. Veda’s work with the Task Force has helped maintain that strong national reputation. The organization is a model for other regions.


The volume of oil moving along and across the west coast is expected to grow as the U.S. and Canada continue to tap new oil sources. Veda’s role in helping coordinate the efforts to prevent, prepare and respond to oil spills across the West Coast will help avoid the environmental and social devastation that occurred when the Exxon Valdez ran aground in Prince William Sound.


Pacific States/British Columbia Oil Spill Task Force

Protecting the West Coast from oil spills is a huge responsibility. The Task Force not only helps prevent oil spills, but also shapes the policy and regulations that protect our marine waterways, wildlife and shorelines from spills. From helping draft the federal Oil Spill Act of 1990 to coordinating forums to discuss emerging spill risk and creating educational materials, the Task Force has spent over two decades focused on its mission: no spilled oil. This transboundary organization is unique and we believe it’s a role model for other regions. Diligence, persistence and partnerships – that’s how they get the job done.

Their final product exceeded our expectations and was great investment for us. The result was a plan unique among all entities working in Puget Sound and helped establish the districts as leaders in on-the-ground projects that improve the natural condition of the Sound.

Ron Shultz, Director of Policy and Intergovernmental Relations, Washington Conservation Commission