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VOA慢速英语:阿拉斯加港湾漏油事件:过去25年了!

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Exxon Valdez Oil Spill: 25 Years Later

Hello again! I’m Jim Tedder in Washington with theprogram that helps you to learn and improve yourAmerican English. Today we look back 25 years to adisaster that affected the environment and the economyin our northernmost state.

Then …some politics. Some experts say this electionyear is looking good for the Republican party. We willexamine the situation in detail.

It’s nice to have you with us as we learn about our world…As It Is.

This week marks the 25th anniversary of the ExxonValdez oil spill. The Exxon Valdez was a huge tanker, aship built to carry large amounts of oil. On March 24, 1989, the tanker set sailfrom the port of Valdez in the state of Alaska. Then the Exxon Valdez struckrocks in Prince William Sound. Forty-one-point-five million liters of oil leakedinto the water.

The Exxon Valdez produced the greatest environmental disaster from an oilspill in US history. The spill marked a turning point in the prevention andreaction to such accidents.

For weeks, oil leaking from the Exxon Valdez spreadalong the coastline of Alaska. Debbie Payton works for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The federal agency, known as NOAA, is responsiblefor taking steps when disasters strike. Ms. Paytonremembers visiting communities affected by the oilspill.

“There were oiled birds. There were some marinemammals that could be seen surfacing through the oil. There was oil on the beaches. ​Hundreds of thousandsof sea animals died. Debbie Payton and other NOAAworkers did what they could to keep the oil fromspreading. They used special equipment to trap andrecover the oil in Prince William Sound. They burnedoil and covered rocks on land with chemicaldispersants.

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Exxon Valdez

However, oily areas can still be seen today. Ms. Paytonnow leads NOAA's Office of Response andRestoration. She says Alaska’s coast and fisheries appear healthy. But she adds that there areexceptions.

The herring industry has collapsed. This formerfisherman wonders whether local businesses will evergo fishing for herring again.

"Typically say, for the herring season, we might havemade $35,000, $40,000. Now, nothing, of course,nothing.”

The U.S. Supreme Court limited the amount of corrective damages againstExxon at $2.5 billion. Exxon also spent over $4 billion in cleanup payments,settlements and fines. Critics say the company should have done more. But a spokesman for Exxon Mobil, Richard Keil, called it a fair deal. He spoke to VOA on Skype.

“We took immediate responsibility for the spill, and the payments we’ve madeare based on agreements worked out in court with input from all parties. It’salso important to note that the company voluntarily compensated more than11,000 Alaskans and businesses within a year of the spill.”

Mr. Keil says the Exxon Valdez spill was a low point in his company’s history. But he also says Exxon Mobil now puts safety first.

“(It’s) the number one factor guiding any and all business decisions we make. We want to protect the environment we’re operating in, the communitieswe’re part of and our employees, contractors, and the people who live nearour operations.”

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April 1989 file photo of an oil soaked bird.

Debbie Payton says the spill also led to other changes like a new law, the OilPollution Act of 1990.

“It led to double-hulled tankers. It led to community action groups,

better integration with response communities -- all the way from the oil spillresponse organizations, private entities, responsible parties through the stateand federal governments.”

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration went on to develop anonline information system to predict spills in real time.

“And that allows us to just pull pieces of information together quicker and seethem quicker so that we can make decisions that much quicker.”

Today NOAA responds to between 100 and 150 spills a year. Chuck Clusenis with the Natural Resources Defense Council. He says the anniversary of the Exxon Valdez spill is a reminder of an important lesson.

“The government and the industry must understand that there are places thatyou simply cannot go.”

It Is An Election Year in the United States

The United States has begun preparing for congressional elections coming upin November. Republican Party leaders are increasingly sure that the party’scandidates will make gains in Congress. Republicans seem especially sureof winning seats in the Senate, which the Democrat Party now controls.

Political experts generally agree that the 2014 elections will be a good year forRepublicans and maybe not so good for Democrats. Anna Matteo tells usmore.

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U.S. Capitol

Lawmakers from both political parties and the Obama administration areincreasingly thinking about the November elections. These midterm electionsare when voters elect all 435 members of the House of Representatives. Voters will also fill 36 of the 100 Senate seats

For now, most political experts say it is likelyRepublicans will hold on to or even add to their majorityin the House. Many experts also feel that Republicanshave an excellent chance of winning six additional seatsin the Senate. This would give them a majority. TheDemocrats would lose control of the Senate.

There are several reasons Republicans are lookingforward to the midterm elections. Many Democratscurrently in office are retiring. John Fortier works for theBipartisan Policy Center. He notes that some Democrats are facing difficultraces in states with a strong Republican base.

“The Senate Republicans have a real opportunity to pick up seats, but theyneed six seats, which is a lot. The good news for Republicans is that many ofthese states are in very strongly Republican states.”

He also notes that President Barack Obama has a low public approval rating. John Fortier thinks this could help Republican candidates.

“The two biggest factors underlying a midterm election are how is theeconomy doing and how is the president in the White House doing. Andultimately midterm elections do not go very well for the president’s party, theytend to go against it. And if the economy is worse, it is even worse. And if thepresident’s unpopular, it is even worse.”

Another issue in November will be how the American public feels about the country’s new health care law. The legislation is known as the AffordableCare Act. Republicans plan to publicize their opposition to the law during theelection campaign, says House Speaker John Boehner.

“The truth is you can’t fix this law. It needs to be torn out by its roots. Youmay be tired of hearing about this, but as long as this law is around andmaking things worse, we’re going to keep fighting it.”

President Obama is quick to defend Affordable Care Act. He accusesRepublicans of having no interest in wanting to fix the law.

“And it is not just to try to improve the law or here is a particular problem withit. No, we just want to scrap it so that millions of people who now have healthinsurance, we want them to go back to not having health insurance. Well that is not going to happen.”

The president has been warning his Democratic supporters that they need tovote in November. He notes that Republicans often do better in midtermelections because there is low voter turnout, meaning fewer people go to vote.

Tom DeFrank is a longtime political observer with the magazine NationalJournal. He feels that if Republicans take control of the Senate, mostlegislation will halt during the final two years of Mr. Obama’s term. This willthen produce more of what he calls, legislative “gridlock.”

“If he loses the Senate in November he will be reduced to governing by veto,denying the Republicans what they want to do. I think it’s gridlock anddamage control the rest of the way.”

The last time Republicans controlled both houses of Congress was during thepresidency of George W. Bush. I’m Anna Matteo.

And I’m Jim Tedder in Washington. More Learning English programs are upnext, and there is world news at the beginning of the hour on VOA.


内容来自 VOA英语学习网https://www.chinavoa.com/show-8246-230104-1.html
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