Natural Resources Restoration:

Use of Exxon Valdez Oil Spill Settlement Funds

RCED-93-206BR: Published: Aug 20, 1993. Publicly Released: Aug 24, 1993.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO provided information on the use of Exxon Valdez oil spill settlement funds, focusing on the: (1) amount and distribution of settlement funds paid through 1992; and (2) functions of the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill Trustee Council.

GAO found that: (1) of the $1 billion in criminal and civil penalties assessed against Exxon pursuant to the Valdez oil spill, Exxon has made two annual installments totalling $240 million; (2) of the $240 million in Exxon payments, $107 million has been returned to federal and state agencies as reimbursements for presettlement cleanup and damage assessment costs, $40 million has been offset for cleanup costs that Exxon incurred in 1991, $19 million has been approved by the Trustee Council for damage assessment and restoration project expenditures and administrative costs, and $74 million remains in a joint federal/state trust fund for future use; and (3) the Trustee Council needs to resolve restoration planning, habitat protection, organization and administration, and internal control issues to ensure that funds received from the Exxon settlement are being disbursed as intended.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The three federal agencies, along with their counterparts in the state of Alaska, have joined forces in completing all four actions recommended in the report. Specifically, they have (1) completed restoration and land acquisition plans, (2) implemented controls to ensure more timely and better quality reports, (3) provided more open competition for restoration projects, and (4) improved internal controls.

    Recommendation: The Secretaries of the Interior and Agriculture, and the Administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration should proactively work with the three state of Alaska trustees to better ensure that the $1 billion being received as a result of the Exxon Valdez oil spill settlements is expended as intended. Among other things, attention should be given to: (1) completing restoration and land acquisition plans; (2) requiring more timely and better quality project reports; (3) providing for more open competition for restoration projects; and (4) improving internal controls.

    Agency Affected: Department of Agriculture

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The three federal agencies, along with their counterparts in the state of Alaska, have joined forces in completing all four actions recommended in the report. Specifically, they have (1) completed restoration and land acquisition plans, (2) implemented controls to ensure more timely and better quality reports, (3) provided more open competition for restoration projects, and (4) improved internal controls.

    Recommendation: The Secretaries of the Interior and Agriculture, and the Administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration should proactively work with the three state of Alaska trustees to better ensure that the $1 billion being received as a result of the Exxon Valdez oil spill settlements is expended as intended. Among other things, attention should be given to: (1) completing restoration and land acquisition plans; (2) requiring more timely and better quality project reports; (3) providing for more open competition for restoration projects; and (4) improving internal controls.

    Agency Affected: Department of Commerce: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

  3. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The three federal agencies, along with their counterparts in the state of Alaska, have joined forces in completing all four actions recommended in the report. Specifically, they have (1) completed restoration and land acquisition plans, (2) implemented controls to ensure more timely and better quality reports, (3) provided more open competition for restoration projects, and (4) improved internal controls.

    Recommendation: The Secretaries of the Interior and Agriculture, and the Administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration should proactively work with the three state of Alaska trustees to better ensure that the $1 billion being received as a result of the Exxon Valdez oil spill settlements is expended as intended. Among other things, attention should be given to: (1) completing restoration and land acquisition plans; (2) requiring more timely and better quality project reports; (3) providing for more open competition for restoration projects; and (4) improving internal controls.

    Agency Affected: Department of the Interior

 

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