Rep. Wayne Owens is predicting that laws governing the transportation of oil from the North Slope will change in the aftermath of the Valdez oil spill.
"The country is in the mood to require of Congress and Congress is in the mood to respond by doing something very significant to change fundamentally the way we transport that oil from the Valdez terminal," he said.Returning from congressional hearings in Alaska, Owens estimated it would cost about $2 billion to clean up the spill.
"The economic costs will be paid by Exxon," said Owens. "That seems clear. But what if the tanker which ran aground had been owned by a smaller company? That poses a terrible set of circumstances."
While in Alaska members of Congress were briefed on the progress of cleanup efforts and toured the oil-damaged shorelines. They also visited mammal and bird rescue centers.
"The oil companies had no response to the spill," said Owens. "For five days you had nothing impending what nature wanted to do with that oil. It is still going where it wants to go."
In Owens' previous term in Congress he supported a Trans-Canada pipeline. His attempts to amend the Trans-Alaska pipeline legislation so that National Environmental Policy Act safeguards would apply were unsuccessful.
"I think you'll see...a bunch of us trying to amend quite severely the Trans-Alaska pipeline legislation," he said.