iOS app Android app

Richard Steiner
GET UPDATES FROM Richard Steiner
From 1980–2010, Rick Steiner was as a marine conservation professor with the University of Alaska, stationed in the Arctic (Kotzebue 1980-1982), Prince William Sound (Cordova 1983-1997), and Anchorage (1997-2010). He conducted the university’s conservation extension effort in Alaska and globally, working to find solutions in energy and climate change, marine conservation, offshore oil and environment, habitat protection, endangered species protection, and sustainable development.

As the University of Alaska's marine advisor for the Prince William Sound region of Alaska from 1983-1997, he provided leadership in response to the 1989 Exxon Valdez Oil Spill, proposed and helped establish the Regional Citizens Advisory Councils, the Prince William Sound Science Center, and the billion dollar legal settlement between Exxon and the government with which much of the coastline of the oil spill region was protected. And he worked on oil issues in Pakistan, China, Russia, Lebanon, Nigeria, Shetland, central Asia, and the Gulf of Mexico. He resigned his faculty position in early 2010, after the university terminated his federal funding due to his public criticisms and concerns about the oil industry, in particular the risks of offshore drilling.

Today, he conducts the Oasis Earth project ( –- a global consultancy working with NGOs, governments, industry, and civil society to speed the transition to an environmentally sustainable society. Oasis Earth conducts Rapid Assessments for NGOs in developing nations on critical conservation challenges, reviews environmental assessments, and conducts fully developed studies. Steiner presents Oasis Earth: Planet in Peril to audiences around the world, a presentation on the global environmental crisis and urgently needed solutions, using over 500 images from the UNEP International Photographic Competition for the Environment and NASA images of Earth from space. He continues to work on oil and environment issues, including oil spill prevention, response preparedness, damage assessment, and restoration. His primary focus is now on ecological habitat and biodiversity conservation; establishing Citizens Advisory Councils to advise industry and government; conservation finance; and extractive industry and environment issues, particularly oil, gas, and mining, in the Arctic and globally. Oasis Earth seeks to persuade government, industry, and civil society of the urgency of the global environment crisis, and the necessary regional solutions, particularly in government policy to incentivize sustainability.

Oasis Earth and Professor Steiner are available to assist NGOs, governments, industry, and civil society in speeding their transition to sustainability.

He lives in Anchorage, Alaska with his wife, environmental writer Marybeth Holleman.

Entries by Richard Steiner

Time to End "Blood Oil" Disaster in the Niger Delta

(2) Comments | Posted March 10, 2016 | 11:36 AM


The Niger Delta's legendary "blood oil" disaster has persisted for decades, and is now deepening. Oil in the Delta fuels a dangerous mix of environmental devastation, a violent militancy that has killed thousands, human rights abuses, corporate greed and exploitation, epidemic corruption, massive...

Read Post

Deep Sea Mining a New Ocean Threat

(10) Comments | Posted October 20, 2015 | 4:08 PM

2015-10-20-1445325263-7178594-9734528377_939c9910fe_h.jpg (Image courtesy of NOAA)

Adding to concerns about the disastrous decline in ocean ecosystems, now there is another emerging threat - deep sea mining. While shallow water mining for sand, gold, tin, and diamonds has been conducted for decades, commercial deep sea mining...

Read Post

Gulf Spill Settlement Good, But Needs Fine-Tuning

(9) Comments | Posted July 13, 2015 | 2:22 PM

Given the broad contours of the historic $18.7 billion "agreement in principle" announced this month between the U.S. Department of Justice, Gulf states and BP to resolve government claims from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon spill disaster, there is cause for optimism.

The proposed deal, which would be the...

Read Post

Last Chance to Save Imperiled Arctic

(10) Comments | Posted March 24, 2015 | 5:47 PM

The Arctic is one of the most extraordinary, unique, and threatened regions in the global biosphere. It is suffering effects of climate change more severely than elsewhere, with dramatic ecological and cultural consequences. Arctic sea ice has declined precipitously, permafrost and the Greenland ice cap are

Read Post

Obama Should Designate Marine National Monuments in Alaska

(2) Comments | Posted January 2, 2015 | 3:47 PM

Last June, President Obama committed to designating new Marine National Monuments in U.S. waters, saying: "I'm going to use my authority to protect some of our nation's most precious marine landscapes." This is a long-overdue and historic commitment.

In September, the president began to make good on...

Read Post

Navy War Games in Alaska Would Impact Thousands of Marine Mammals

(6) Comments | Posted September 17, 2014 | 10:03 AM

For the past few years, the U.S. Navy has been developing plans to expand its warfare training exercises in the Gulf of Alaska, which they admit will impact thousands of marine mammals. The exercises are planned each summer (Apr - Oct) for five years, over an area about...

Read Post

New Offshore Oil Plan Could Be 'Game Over' for Climate

(14) Comments | Posted July 17, 2014 | 12:14 PM

In a move that could rival the climate impacts of the Alberta tar sands and Keystone XL pipeline, and would release far more atmospheric carbon than that saved by the new EPA power plant and vehicle rules, the Obama administration just initiated its 2017-2022 process to expand oil and gas...

Read Post

Will Civilization Collapse, or Evolve?

(34) Comments | Posted April 4, 2014 | 5:05 PM

A recent NASA-sponsored study, led by mathematician Safa Motesharrei of the National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center, warns that modern industrial civilization may collapse in coming decades due to resource depletion and a growing unequal distribution of wealth. The authors write that: "The fall of the Roman Empire,...

Read Post

Exxon Valdez 25th Anniversary: Lessons Learned, Lessons Lost

(1) Comments | Posted March 5, 2014 | 10:07 AM

In recognition of this month's 25-year anniversary of the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill in Alaska (March 24), this seems a good time to reflect on lessons learned, and lessons lost.

1. Oil spill "cleanup" is a myth: Once oil has spilled, the battle is lost -- it is...

Read Post

The True Cost of Our Oil Addiction

(6) Comments | Posted January 15, 2014 | 10:14 AM

The first step in recovering from any addiction is to tell the truth -- admit the addiction, acknowledge its consequences. Yet this is something we still seem unwilling to do with our addiction to oil. Addicts would rather stay high than confront their addiction and commit to recovery.


Read Post

Wolves Should Remain on Endangered Species List

(26) Comments | Posted October 23, 2013 | 12:06 PM

The current federal plan to remove Endangered Species Act (ESA) protection for gray wolves across the lower 48 states is one of the most ill conceived proposals yet from the Obama administration. If enacted, the plan would reverse three decades of wolf recovery across the American west.


Read Post

Gulf Citizens Deserve Greater Role in Offshore Oil Oversight

(0) Comments | Posted August 1, 2013 | 10:51 AM

Like other industrial disasters, the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster was caused by a dangerous combination of human error, equipment failure, and complacency in industry and government. It was immediately clear that more rigorous oversight of offshore industry would be necessary. And today, industry and government assure us that they have...

Read Post

The New Illiteracy -- Obfuscation -- Hinders Progress

(3) Comments | Posted July 8, 2013 | 9:47 AM

Much has been discussed, rightfully so, about the global problem of illiteracy -- the inability to read and write. But recently, a new and perhaps more pernicious form of illiteracy has emerged, indeed become epidemic: obfuscation. More than simply inarticulate or clumsy speech, obfuscation is the intentional misuse of language...

Read Post

Protecting Earth's Final Frontier -- The Deep Sea

(10) Comments | Posted May 31, 2013 | 8:58 AM

Click here to read an original op-ed from the TED speaker who inspired this post and watch the TEDTalk below.

It may be understandable that a terrestrial primate such as ourselves would pay little attention to a world so foreign, inaccessible, and inhospitable as the deep...

Read Post

Arctic Shipping Is a Disaster Waiting to Happen

(4) Comments | Posted December 12, 2012 | 10:31 AM

When the Malaysian freighter Selendang Ayu grounded in Alaska's Aleutian Islands eight years ago, it was a tragic reminder of the growing risks of northern shipping. While en route from Seattle to China, in a fierce Bering Sea winter storm with 70-knot winds and 25-foot seas, the ship's engine failed....

Read Post

Climate Science in Lieu of Climate Action Is Unconscionable

(26) Comments | Posted November 12, 2012 | 5:02 PM

One of our most dangerous self-deceptions these days is the belief that simply studying the impacts of climate change will somehow avert the crisis. It won't. Studying climate change will not keep one carbon atom out of the global atmosphere. We already know enough about the disastrous impacts of climate...

Read Post

On Columbus Day, It's Time to Rethink Our 'Manifest Destiny'

(4) Comments | Posted October 8, 2012 | 4:20 PM

Today is Columbus Day, celebrating the "discovery of the New World." As this event set off a wave of conquest, environmental devastation, and empire building that continues today, this seems a good time to reflect on this history, and discuss a better way forward for 21st century humanity.

In today's...

Read Post

Threatened Arctic Deserves Protection

(2) Comments | Posted July 5, 2012 | 5:51 PM

The Arctic is one of most pristine and unique regions of our planet, but it is now in crisis from two serious threats -- climate change and industrialization. As sea ice retreats, the Arctic has become the "wild wild north" -- a last frontier for a failed development paradigm that...

Read Post

Dear Shell: Please Be Honest About Risks from Your Arctic Ocean Oil Drilling This Summer

(2) Comments | Posted May 21, 2012 | 6:34 PM

The letter below was sent to Royal Dutch Shell at The Hague and Alaska, seeking their confirmation and clarification of several important issues regarding Shell's Arctic Ocean drilling plans this summer off northern Alaska. Alaskans have a lot of experience with broken promises, deceptions, and misrepresentations from oil companies over...

Read Post

At Rio+20 Earth Summit, Governments Must "Show Us the Money"

(16) Comments | Posted April 4, 2012 | 11:54 AM

Many scientists agree that to save the environment of our life-sustaining home planet, we are running out of time. It's clear we are at, or near, a tipping point beyond which irreversible environmental degradation will occur. It is time we-the-people stand up and demand bold, urgent action to secure an...

Read Post