The Pacific States/British Columbia Oil Spill Task Force was authorized by a Memorandum of Cooperation signed in 1989 by the Governors of Alaska, Washington, Oregon, and California and the Premier of British Columbia, following two oil spill incidents. The tank barge Nestucca spilled oil on the scenic coasts of the US State of Washington and the Canadian Province of British Columbia in December of 1988; three months later the T/V Exxon Valdez oil spill in the US State of Alaska sounded an alarm heard coastwide. These events highlighted concerns shared by the US Pacific states with the Canadian Province of British Columbia regarding spill risks from vessel traffic and the need for cooperation across shared borders, as well as a shared zeal among West Coast citizens of both the nations to protect their marine resources.
In June 2001 a revised Memorandum of Cooperation was written to include the State of Hawaii and a focus on spill preparedness and prevention needs for the 21st century. The continuing focus of the Task Force is on fostering regulatory consistency, sharing information and resources, and coordinating development and implementation of new policies and programs to reduce the risk of marine oil spills.
The Task Force Members are senior executives from the environmental agencies with oil spill regulatory authority in the states of Alaska, Washington, Oregon, California and Hawaii and the Province of British Columbia. Oil spill program managers from each member agency comprise the Task Force’s Coordinating Committee, which oversees activities and projects as authorized by the Members when they adopt a Five Year Strategic Plan and Annual Work Plans. The Coordinating Committee convenes four times a year. The Task Force Members hold their Annual Meetings each summer, rotating locations among member jurisdictions. The Task Force Executive Coordinator staffs the Task Force and provides liaison with stakeholders (industry, agencies, NGOs), arranges and facilitates meetings, develops comments and other documents, and coordinates project implementation.