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March 24, 2009
Kevin Coburn, Director of Communications

Author Riki Ott presents “The Democracy Crisis: Lessons Learned from the Exxon Valdez Disaster” at Green Mountain College

POULTNEY--Author Riki Ott, a rare combination of commercial salmon “fisherm’am” and Ph.D. marine biologist, experienced firsthand the devastating effects of the Exxon Valdez oil spill that occurred 20 years ago today. Ott will visit Green Mountain College April 1 at 7 p.m. to deliver a talk “The Democracy Crisis: Lessons Learned from the Exxon Valdez Disaster.” The theme is based on her recent book Not One Drop, published by Chelsea Green. Her appearance at GMC is part of the Green Mountain College-Chelsea Green Speaker Series.

The Exxon Valdez disaster occurred in Prince William Sound, Alaska, on March 24, 1989—it is still considered one of the most devastating human-caused environmental disasters to occur at sea. The tanker Valdez spilled 10.8 million gallons of crude oil into the sea, and the resulting slick eventually covered 11,000 square miles of ocean. The region was important habitat for salmon, sea otters, seals, and seabirds.

Ott will describe the oil industry’s 20-year trail of pollution and deception that predated the spill and delve into the disruption to the fishing community of Cordova over the following 19 years. In vivid detail, she describes the human trauma coupled inextricably with that of the Prince William Sound’s wildlife and its long road to recovery. Ott critically examines shifts in scientific understanding of oil-spill effects on ecosystems and communities, exposes flaws in governance and the legal system, and contrasts hard won spill-prevention and response measures in the Sound to dangerous conditions on the Alaska pipeline.

Ott’s varied background, professional training, and activist heart lead the audience to the root of the problem: a clash of human rights and corporate power embedded in law and small-town life. She retired from fishing and founded three nonprofit organizations to deal with lingering harm.

For more than 20 years, Chelsea Green has been the publishing leader for books on the politics and practice of sustainable living. The publisher is a founding member of the Green Press Initiative and has been printing books on recycled paper since 1985. The April 1 presentation is free and open to the public in the Gorge (Withey Hall) at Green Mountain College.


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