A Hull of a Problem
The U.S. oil industry is engaged in a cynical ploy to dodge federal regulations that require safer tankers, putting the Pacific coastline, from Alaska to California, at risk for a huge oil spill, writes Jim Fulton, the head of the David Suzuki Foundation in Canada. In the wake of the Exxon Valdez spill in 1989, Congress mandated that all single-hulled tankers be replaced with double-hulled ones by 2015, a change that would have reduced the Valdez spill by 60 percent. But last year, of the 24 tankers that regularly traveled south from Alaska, only six were double-hulled — and they were old ships, not replacements. Companies such as Texaco and Exxon have made no commitments to buy double-hulled tankers, and Fulton accuses them of edging as close to the 2015 deadline as they can, while waiting for Alaska’s oil to run out around the same time. Last year, tankers made about 500 trips south from Alaska laden with oil.