In commemoration of "Earth Day" last week, the cruise industry's trade organization, the Cruise Line International Organization ("CLIA"), issued a PR statement praising itself for being a champion of protecting the environment.
The PR statement was entitled "Cruise Industry Continues to Build on Successful Track Record as Environmental Stewards of the Seas They Sail." CLIA boasted that it has been at the "forefront of emissions reduction."
CLIA CEO Christine Duffy stated "We believe it is our responsibility to protect the environment in which we operate, and we take great pride in the strides our industry has made to chart a sustainable course for future generations."
Sounds great. The problem is that it is not true.
Today multiple newspapers are reporting that CLIA is vigorously fighting to avoid cleaner ship fuel regulations so that it can continue to burn inexpensive bunker fuels.
McClatchy newspapers report that heavy fuels that oceangoing vessels burn add so much to air pollution hundreds of miles inland that the United States joined with Canada to ask the International Maritime Organization ("IMO") to create an emissions-control area along the coasts. Large ships would be required to reduce pollution dramatically in a zone 200 miles out to sea along all the coasts of North America, mainly by using cleaner fuel.
Although the cargo-shipping industry supports the stringent emission reductions, the cruise ship industry does not. It wants what it is calling an "emissions-averaging plan" that would allow it to burn the same heavy fuel it always has used in some areas. It is lobbying Congress for help.
McClatchy reports that officials of the EPA and the Coast Guard opposed CLIA's plan in a letter to the IMO Secretary-General Koji Sekimizu. "After analysis, we believe the cruise lines proposal is unacceptable because it would result in overall higher emissions and doesn't meet public expectations of uniform delivery of health and environmental benefits for citizens of the United States," wrote Jeffrey G. Lantz, the Coast Guard's director of commercial regulations and standards, and Margo Tsirigotis Oge, the director of the EPA's office of transportation and air quality.
There is no debate that the cruise line's use of bunker fuels and other high sulfur fuels poses not only an ugly air pollution spectacle but presents a substantial health hazard. Read some of our other articles about the problem of cruise air emissions and the cruise lines' attempt to act like a environmentally responsible industry: "Notorious Polluters," "Bunker Fuel - Nasty Tar Sludge!" and "Dirty Cruise Industry Tries to Wiggle Out Of Clean Air Law."
CLIA is a two faced organization. It poses as an environmental leader for marketing purposes, but behind the scenes it is spending millions lobbying Congress so that it can burn inexpensive but dangerous heavy sulfur fuels.