Governor Parnell Continues to Advance Dirty Cruise Industry's Interests

Governor Parnell and the pro-cruise pollution legislators in Alaska have some new talking points in their efforts to weaken the cruise line waste water restrictions. They say that its not the cruise sewage that will harm the state's image but their opponents' "hype" that easing the standards will result in "dirty water and terrible discharges."        

Putting aside for a moment the nasty spectacle of dumping partially treated sewage into the water, the fact is that cruise ship water treatment devices clearly do not treat all of the wastewater discharged in Alaskan waters in compliance with Alaska’s water quality standards regarding ammonia, as well as the heavy metals - copper, nickel and zinc.

Alaska Cruise Ship Pollution It's unhealthy and dangerous to release these heavy metals into the waters where they will find their way in the fish, particularly salmon. 

Three years ago, the cruise industry flat out threatened Governor Parnell that it would boycott Alaska unless he would agree to work with the cruise lines to avoid pollution regulations. Read Governor Parnell Gets Punked.

Instead of demanding better technologies to address this problem, as required by the 2006 initiatives, Governor is heading the state in the other direction where no efforts will be made to address the problems with heavy metals. Meanwhile, the sewage (whether partially treated or not) will continue to fill the Alaskan waters.   

A newspaper in Ketchikan explains that this is a huge problem given the enormous amount of sewage and toxic by-products which cruise ships will dump in Alaskan waters:

"About 30 cruise ships carrying a total of nearly one million people visit Alaska over a five month period. This result is over one billion gallons of cruise discharges being dumped into unknown areas of Alaska state waters every year."

The newspaper also points out that on January 29th, as the relaxed laws were being fast tracked by legislators, Princess Cruises was fined $20,000 (a slap on the wrist) when one of its cruise ships, the 2,590 passenger Golden Princess, discharged 66,000 gallons of chlorinated pool water into Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve.  

Zinc, nickel and copper in the fish and chlorine in the water. Alaska is heading backwards.

Read our last article on these disturbing developments in Alaska:

The Dirty Alaskan Cruise Industry Just Got Dirtier

The Dirty Alaskan Cruise Industry Just Got Dirtier

In 2006, Alaskan citizens sent a clear message to the cruise industry that cruise ships could not treat the beautiful waters of Alaska like a toilet.  

Seven years ago Alaskan voters approved legislation that prohibited cruise ships from discharging "untreated sewage, treated sewage, graywater or other wastewaters in a manner that violates any applicable effluent limits or standards under state or federal law, including Alaska Water Quality Standards governing pollution at the point of discharge.” 

Alaska Salmon Fisheries - Cruise Ship PollutionThe Alaskan regulations strictly restricted the level of ammonia, copper, nickel and zinc.  As of 2009, cruise ships were routinely being caught violating the Alaska regulations.  In this chart, in 2009 alone, there were forty-one (41) violations of Alaska'a waster water and air emission laws by Celebrity, HAL, NCL, Princess, Regent Seven Seas, Royal Caribbean and Silverseas, with Carnival-owned Princess and HAL cruise ships being the greatest offenders. 

The Miami-based cruise industry is used to getting its way. Cruise lines like Carnival and Royal Caribbean are used to dumping untreated sewage in the waters of powerless Caribbean countries. Most port nations and even most states in the U.S. where the cruise lines base their cruise ships have not enacted any waste water discharge regulations whatsoever.  

But Alaska was different,  It not only passed legislation that banned the nasty cruise line practice of opening the bowels of the huge ships into the state's waters but it took steps to levy a realistic head tax of $50 per passenger to offset the damage to Alaska's infrastructure caused by the massive cruise ships.

The cruise lines did not like Alaska's exercise of its state rights one bit. The cruise industry spent millions of dollars lobbying against waste water regulations. It attacked the green water scientists, removed the honest water experts from oversight panels, inserted cruise industry hacks, and bullied state officials and concerned citizens.  

Carnival led the charge. It threatened Alaskan Governor Parnell that it would pull its ships from Alaska and it sued the state along with other cruise lines to avoid the $50 head tax.

Alaskan Governor Parnell backed down and sent a message to the cruise industry that the state's water emission laws are negotiable. Alaska caved in and reduced its $50 head tax. Alaska began sliding down the slippery slope as the cruise lines increased their lobbying and threatened to boycott Alaska. 

The result today is that at Governor Parnell's urging, the House of Representatives just voted to essentially repeal all of the 2006 waster water initiatives. The debate is now moving to the Senate.

A repeal of the 2006 laws will be disastrous to the waters of Alaska.

Alaskan Cruise Ship - Pollution Waste WaterAs explained in this thoughtful blog, "a single cruise ship produces 210,000 gallons of sewage, over a million gallons of greywater, 130 gallons of hazardous wastes such as poisonous metals, and 25,000 gallons of oily bilge water in a single week-long cruise. There are 28 very large cruise ships which operate up to 150 days annually in Alaska. Such large quantities of pollution are a threat to Alaska’s critical fisheries." 

This results is approximately 1,064,448,000 gallons of sewage and wastewater being dumped into Alaska state waters every year. The really sinister part of the abandonment of the pollution laws is that Republicans rejected Democratic amendments which would have required disclosure of the location of sewage discharges and protected fisheries from sewage discharges.

The thought of the cruise industry dumping over a billion gallons of cruise ship crap into the salmon filled waters is really gross.  They can keep the locations secret too.  I hate to think of all of the norovirus-laden poop floating around with the fish.  But this is the reality of a cruise industry which projects itself as a steward of the seas but is actually the Alaskan waters' worst enemy.

 

Photo:

Salmon - earthjustice.com

Power to the People of Alaska

The Anchorage Daily News has an interesting editorial today by Alaska resident and green water scientist Gershon Cohen entitled "Power to the People, Not the Cruise Industry."  He characterizes Governor Parnell's decision to reduce the cruise "head tax" from $46 a cruise passenger to only $19 as a sell out to the Miami-based cruise lines.

Dr. Cohen is right.  The citizens of Alaska voted for the tax to protect their state and its beautiful waters from exploitation and pollution by cruise ships operated by Carnival and Royal Caribbean and their subsidiaries - Celebrity, Holland America Lines, and Princess Cruises.  Governor Parnell's unilateral decision to dump 60% of the cruise tax approved by Alaskan voters raises the Cruise Ship Pollution - Alaskaquestion - who is calling the shots here?  The people of Alaska or Carnival's tax-avoiding Mickey Arison

Dr. Cohen has a right to be sensitive about Carnival's control over the politics in Alaska.  When Dr. Cohen was appointed to a waste water panel which regulated cruise ship emissions, the cruise industry complained and Dr. Cohen was unceremoniously removed.      

I written many articles about how foreign incorporated cruise lines pay zero federal taxes on the $35,000,000,000 (billion) in cruise fares from mostly U.S. tax-paying citizens - by flagging their cruise ships in foreign countries.  And there is no doubt that the cruise lines are making money hand over fist.  Just the other day, Forbes announced three cruise tycoons as some of the richest people in the world - "Cruise Line Fat Cat Billionaires."

The Miami cruise lines may be rich, but its the people of Alaska who have the power.  Unless they want to follow Governor Parnell's lead and roll over and play dead for Mickey and his Miami-based cruise ships. 

 

Additional Information to Consider:  In 2009, Alaska issued a record number of waste water violation notices to the cruise industry.  The citizens of Alaska are smart to assess a fair tax against these cruise ships to protect their waters and support the state's infrastructure. 

The major polluters and violators of Alaska's environmental laws were Princess Cruises (photo above) and Holland America Lines (HAL). Listen here for audio from a local NPR station in Sitka, Alaska.

 

Credits:

Princess cruise ship                  Ed Schoenfeld (via NPR KCAW-FM)

Governor Parnell Gets Punked

Stein Kruse Scold Alaskan Governor ParnellEarlier this week, I attended the "Cruise Shipping Miami" convention here in Miami and reported on the threats against Alaska's Governor Parnell leveled by Holland American Lines' CEO Stein Kruse to pull HAL cruise ships from Alaska. (photo courtesy Travel Agent Central)

As we all know, HAL is wholly owned by Carnival and Kruse reports directly to Carnival CEO and multi-billionaire Mickey Arison.  Mickey has been threatening Alaska ever since the state's voters passed legislation to protect its waters from major polluters like HAL, Princess Cruises and other subsidiaries of Carnival who cruise to Alaska.       

But the issue is not the $50 head tax, as Carnival's lackeys argue.  Its the fact that Alaska has serious environmental regulations which the cruise industry wants to avoid. 

Did the cruise industry's tongue lashing and finger pointing work?  Newspapers like the Alaska Daily News and the Alaska Journal are now reporting that the Governor now wants to reduce the cruise head tax by 25% and make Alaska more conducive to attracting cruise ships.  

In exchange for lower taxes, the cruise industry would drop its lawsuit to repeal the tax and send Alaska Governor Parnell - I promise to do what the cruise lines tell me to do more ships to Alaska. 

The fact that these huge cruise ships burn nasty bunker fuels and discharge massive amount of ammonium, phosphorus, and fecal matter into Alaskan waters was probably not a topic of conversation when Governor Parnell (right) was chatting  with the cruise line executives. 

Alaskan voters previously voted in favor of the cruise tax to protect its waters.  Who did Governor Parnell pledge his allegiance to?  The citizens of Alaska, or the Miami-based cruise lines?  

Wiggling out of Alaska's laws will be the cruise industry's next step.  Cruise lines don't like to be regulated, especially where Alaska's environmental regulations cause the cruise industry to spend money on state-of-the-art wastewater technology.

 

Credits:

Cruise line executives       Travel Agent Central