A Step Backwards: Alaska Yields to Cruise Industry Lobbying and Repeals Wastewater Restrictions.

Want some some zinc, nickel and copper in your Alaskan salmon? Well, now you can.

Today the Republican controlled Alaska Senate voted 14 to 6 to approve a law proposed by Governor Parnell to abolish cruise ship wastewater standards enacted in 2006.

The Anchorage Daily News reports that the new law will allow the cruise industry to indefinitely discharge ammonia, a product of human waste, and heavy metals, dissolved from ship plumbing. Those discharges would have been banned in 2015 under a 2006 citizen initiative.

Alaska Air and Water PollutionThe new law dismantles a scientific advisory panel on cruise ship wastewater created in 2009. 

Formerly the most progressive state in the U.S. protecting its waters from harmful cruise ship discharges, Alaska was intimidated by the cruise industry to roll back its environmental regulations to permit cruise lines to dump high levels of waste by-products and heavy metals like zinc, copper and nickel.   

Ammonia contributes to algae blooms and harms shellfish. Copper, one of the heavy metals, has been shown to harmful to salmon. 

Fishing groups, environmentalists, Alaska native organizations and residents of coastal communities spoke out against the new pro-cruise line law.

During Tuesday's floor debate, Senator Wielechowski, D-Anchorage, listed a series of pollution violations by cruise ships over the years, including 41 in 2009. 

You can read our last article about this mess here: The Dirty Alaskan Cruise Industry Just Got Dirtier

What a big victory for the Miami-based cruise industry.

And what a disgrace for the state of Alaska.

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

Cruise News Round-Up: A Cruise Billionaire, Cruise Industry Lies, Royal Caribbean Monkey Business, and Good News For Cruise Law News

This week was another interesting week in the strange world of cruise law.  Just consider:

A Cruise CEO With Billions of Dollars But No Soul?

Carnival Cruise's CEO Billionaire Mickey Arison was named the richest man in Florida again by Mickey Arison - Carnival Cruise CEO - Billions for him - Peanuts for Crew Fortune magazine with a net worth of $4,100,000,000.  So why does he pay his injured and ill crew members slave wages of only $12 a day? 

Arison owns the Miami Heat and is paying basketball stars Dwayne Wade and LeBron James hundreds of millions of dollars, but he treats his crew employees like dog crap.  

Arison and the other cruise line tycoons Leon Black and the Pritzker families are stereotypes of greedy shipping executives.  Earlier this year I wrote about these Cruise Line Fat Cat Billionaires.  Here we are again with these billionaires counting their pennies.  

Billions for me, peanuts for the crew.  

More Lies By the Cruise Line International Association

The notorious Cruise Line International Association ("CLIA"), which rivals the former communist regimes of Russia in trying to control the flow of information (Pravda anyone?), released a major marketing PR effort this week to promote itself as a green industry.  CEO Arison is quoted as saying that the cruise industry is "committed to the highest environmental standards through cutting-edge environmental policies, procedures, technologies . . . "

Ha.

The truth is that Arison and CLIA fought tooth and nail this year to avoid Alaska's high wastewater restrictions.  A green company?  Hardly.  CLIA opposes the Clean Air Law and its cruise ships are still burning nasty bunker fuel.  Technologies needed to meet the "highest" wastewater and emission standards cost money, that billionaire Arison has historically avoided spending unless forced to do so.     

Bunker Fuel - CLIA - Cruise Line International AssociationAt the same time CLIA issued its grandiose environmental press statement, numerous newspapers published articles revealing that the cruise industry still has a long, long way to go to protect the seas in which its cruise ships still pollute: "Cruise Ships Continue Dumping Sewage,"  "The Dark Side of Cruising: Waste Disposal," and "Cruise Ships Continue to Foul the Baltic Sea."

More Monkey Business By Royal Caribbean

My blog this week contained two of my most widely read articles over the course of the last year.  Royal Caribbean's Deep Throat focused on the corruption in Royal Caribbean's risk management department.  

The "Deep Throat" article about the cruise line's indifference toward its own corrupt employee should be read in contrast to the cruise line's diabolical conduct toward a former cruise line lawyer who decided to "switch sides" and represent injured passengers and crew members - Royal Caribbean Forces Defense Lawyer to Switch Sides.  This article was widely circulated by email within Royal Caribbean's legal department and its outside law firm who are teaming up in a campaign of malicious prosecution against our firm.

The "Deep Throat" article was named as one of the "best in blogs" by LexBlog yesterday.

More Good News For Cruise Law News (CLN)

Speaking of the best blogs, CLN has reached another milestone as one of the most read legal blogs in the U.S.  Three months ago, I was excited to mention that this blog was the 55th most popular legal blog per the Alexa rankings and was rising fast. I predicted by the end of the year that CLN's popularity would place it in the top 25 law blogs.

Well today Alexa's ranking shows that CLN moved up from the 55th to the 32nd most popular law blog.   

It seems that the public is hungry for a source of information about cruising other than the slick corporate statements from billionaire executives and bogus facts from the cruise industry's PR people. 

 

Interested in how your blog or website is ranked?  Click here and download the Alexa toolbar.  It will take 20 seconds . . .

Credits:  Mickey Arison - David Adame AP (via Cruise Blog)

Alaska Reduces Taxes and Relaxes Pollution Standards For Bullying Cruise Lines

The Juneau Empire reports that Alaska just weakened its wastewater regulations at the cruise industry's request.  Cruise ships are now permitted to dump greater amount of ammonia (from fecal matter), copper, nickel and zinc in Alaska's pristine waters.

The newspaper reports that the cruise industry is "pleased" and  and "appreciates" the new wastewater discharge rules.

The cruise industry bullied Alaska, threatening the state with pulling cruise ships from Alaska if the wastewater standards were not relaxed.  Some cruise lines planned to reduce time in the ports in Alaska, so that they could sail outside of state waters and dump wastewater without being subject to Alaska's strict standards.

Cruise Ship Pollution - Wastewater - EmissionsCruise lines have been toying with Alaska even since its citizens passed an initiative to increase taxes and enact wastewater regulations to protect Alaskan waters from massively polluting cruise ships.  On Earth Day last week, the New York Times characterized cruise lines as "notorious polluters."  

The cruise industry is having its way with Alaska at this point.

It's agenda was first to wiggle out of Alaska's taxes, but the tax issue was never about whether the $46 head tax was too high.  The cruise lines didn't pay the tax in the first place.  Cruise passengers did.  It is ludicrous to suggest that a family would decide to cruise if the tax were $34 but not cruise at $46.

The real issue has always been the issue of whether the cruise industry would permit a state like Alaska to regulate it.  State of the art pollution technology is expensive.  Cruise lines don't pay any Federal taxes on the $35,000,000,000 they collect on fares each year from tax paying Americans. They don't want to set a precedent of allowing states to impose standards to protect their natural resources.  It's cheaper to pollute.

Earlier this year, the cruise industry twisted the arms of some of the Republican legislators in Alaska and kicked green water scientist Gershon Cohen off of the state's wastewater panel.  This was pay back for Mr. Cohen's work in passing the regulations which strengthened  Alaska's environmental regulations.  With Mr. Cohen removed from the panel, it was easy pickings to gut the pollution standards to benefit the polluters.     

A few weeks ago, Alaska announced it was reducing it's "head tax" on cruise passenger by 25%.  Today, it has relaxed its pollution regulations.  All of this is working exactly as the cruise industry planned after a year of threats and lawsuits. 

The Juneau Empire printed a letter from an Alaskan reader "Beaten Up By Bullies."

It's amazing to see how a "notorious polluting" Miami-based industry which collects $35 billion a year tax-free can threaten and bully Alaska to get exactly what it wants - reduced state taxes, relaxed pollution laws, and more profits . . .

 

For additional information, consider reading:

Polluting Cruise Industry Tries Again to Avoid Alaskan Regulations

 

 

Credits:

Royal Caribbean's Vision of the Seas cruise ship    AlaskanLibrarian's Flickr photostream

Cruise Industry: "Notorious Polluters"

Today - Earth Day - is special because our maritime law firm works in a specialized area of the law.  Everything we handle is related to the world's oceans and seas.  Earlier today, our  superstar legal intern, Caitlin Burke, wrote an excellent article entitled Earth Day - Spotlight on Cruising - A Dirty Business.

We know that whenever we write a really good blog about the disastrous effect of cruise ships on the environment, a cruise fanatic sends us a scathing email or calls to complain.  Today was no exception. Our firm has over 7,500 followers on it's  CruiseLaw Twitter page.  Shortly after Caitlin published her article on cruise pollution, several long time Twitter cruise fans immediately "unfollowed" us and an equal number of environmentalists became our new "friends" on Twitter. 

Earth Day - Cruise Pollution - Bunker FuelThis type of connection to the internet is a good barometer whether our Cruise Law News articles are effective and "hitting the mark."  

After Caitlin's article came out, the New York Times ran an interesting article entitled "In Antarctic Waters" which discussed the International Maritime Organization's announcement that large cruise ships will no longer be allowed to burn "heavy fuel" (nasty bunker fuel) in Antarctic waters.

The New York Times welcomed this as a "step in protecting the harsh but delicate polar environment."  

The high-sulfur fuel used by cruise ships emit highly polluting and unhealthy particles into the air, and present a potential disaster if the fuel is spilled.  Cruise lines use bunker fuels because the cruise industry is largely unregulated  and the fuel is cheap, even though it has a disastrous effect on humans and the environment.

The New York Times writes:

"The ban on high-sulfur fuel in Antarctica, which begins in August 2011, will effectively end visits by cruise ships carrying more than 500 passengers. It will also reduce the total number of Antarctic passenger visits from more than 15,000 a year to about 6,400, all of whom will be traveling on smaller, lighter and greener ships.

This is an important step and a welcome respite for the waters. And it will help drive the cruise industry - notorious polluters - to re-examine its essential mission.

After all, what’s the point of visiting the natural wonders of the nautical world if you leave a terrible stain behind when you leave?"

Reason No. 3 Not To Cruise: Carnival, Royal Caribbean And NCL Are Corporate Felons

This is reason no. 3 in the series: Top 10 Reasons Not To Cruise

In law school, I learned that evidence of a felony or a crime involving dishonesty can be introduced at trial to be considered by the jury to assess a person's credibility.  The same rule of evidence applies equally to corporations, like cruise lines.

Would you do business with someone who committed repeated crimes involving dishonesty?   If you have taken a cruise, chances are that you have already done business with a corporate felon.

In 1999, Royal Caribbean pled guilty in six jurisdictions to charges of wide-spread fleet-wide practices of routinely discharging oil-contaminated wastes and pollutants (including in Alaska's Inside Passage), and repeatedly making false statements to the U.S. Coast Guard.  The illegal discharges and falsification of log books took place on Royal Caribbean cruise ships entering ports in Miami, New York City, Los Angeles, Anchorage, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Save The Waves - Royal Caribbean - Corporate FelonThe U.S. leveled the felony charges not just because of the repeated and massive scale of the dumping of pollutants but because the cruise line continued to lie. U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno stated at a press conference: 

.  .  . at the same time that their ships were sailing into the inland passage of Alaska, one of the most sensitive and beautiful eco-systems in our nation, their crew members were wearing buttons that said, 'Save the Waves.'  That's what they were wearing above deck.  Below deck, business as usual was going on and oily contaminated bilge water was being dumped overboard . . .

Attorney General Reno was rightfully pissed: " .  .  . if people flim-flam us, they should expect the consequences .  .  ."  When the sentencing was over, the U.S. Government fined Royal Caribbean a total of $27,000,000 and placed the cruise line on probation for five years.

When this occurred, the "inside word" in Miami was that all of the other cruise lines were dumping pollutants and lying about it, but only Royal Caribbean got caught.

In 2002, the U.S. Government caught up with Carnival as well.

By the time the investigation was over, Carnival pled guilty to numerous felonies for discharging oily waste into the sea.  Like Royal Caribbean, Carnival routinely falsified its oil record books in order to conceal its illegal practices.  The U.S. Government leveled a $18,000,000 fine and placed Carnival on probation.

A few months later, Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) - feeling the heat - stepped forward and pled guilty to a felony of routinely circumventing the oily water separator, dumping oily bilge directly into Cruise Line Corporate Felons - Pollution - Lyingthe ocean on a regular basis, and falsifying its record keeping.  NCL admitted that it engaged in a practice of "systematically lying to the United States Coast Guard over a period of years." 

The Department of Justice issued a fine of only $1,500,000, primarily because NCL admitted its wrongdoing rather than lying and scheming like Royal Caribbean and Carnival.

Since these incidents, all of these cruise lines and their subsidiaries have been caught dumping illegal levels of pollutants in violation of state laws or memorandum of understandings with states like California.  Carnival's subsidiary Princess Cruises is the most prolific violator of Alaska's wastewater regulations over the course of the last year.

The U.S. public has a choice where to go on vacation.  For example, the United States has an incredible number of beautiful National Parks to visit.  The parks are staffed by environmentalists dedicated to protecting the park's animals, birds, waters and land.  Why not give a National Park a try this summer?

But cruising?  Do you really want to hand your hard earned income over to admitted corporate felons, which are registered in foreign countries in order to avoid U.S. taxes, and which are continuing to pollute our waters?      

 

Tomorrow: Reason No. 4 Not to Cruise: If You Are A Victim On A Cruise Ship, The Cruise Line Will Treat You Like A Criminal

Do you have a comment?  Let us hear from you in the comment section below.

Polluting Cruises Lines Oppose Clean Air Law

The cruise industry is preparing to fight against clean air regulations which will protect the U.S. and Canada from the nasty bunker fuels burned by hundreds of cruise ships.

Reuters reports that the International Maritime Organization (IMO) is proposing a plan to create a buffer zone around the U.S. and Canada which will require low emissions from cruise ships. 

 

 

We have reported on the cruise industry's use of high-sulfur bunker fuels in prior articles:

Cruise Ship Bunker Fuel - "Thick, Tarry Sludge"

Super Ships - Rogues on the High Seas

Polluting Cruise Industry Tries Again to Avoid Alaskan Regulations

The Reuters article explains that the proposed "Emissions Control Area" will extend 200 nautical miles around the coast of the two nations and set stringent new limits on air pollution from ocean-going ships beginning in 2015.

The use of high sulfur fuel creates environmental and health problems.  In a prior article, we explained that cruise ships are using fuel containing up to 4.5 per cent sulfur. That is 4,500 times more than is allowed in car fuel in Europe.  The largest ships emit as much as 5,000 tons of sulfur a year – the same as 50,000,000 cars, each releasing an average of only 100 grams of sulfur a year.

The sulfur comes out of ship funnels as tiny particles which are embedded deep into your lungs. The inhaled sulfur causes inflammation of the linings of the lungs, breathing problems, heart disease and cancer.  The major shipping routes of cargo ships and cruise ships bring these deadly emissions right into the port and seaboard cities.  

Take a look at the photograph below of Royal Caribbean's Vision of the Seas - smoking up a port in Alaska with bunker fuel.  Nasty.  Nasty.  Nasty.  

Holland America Line's CEO, Stein Kruse, complained that the new air law "essentially means all the current fuel that we burn cannot be burned within 200 miles." 

Exactly.

Bunker Fuel - Cruise Pollution

 March 22, 2010 Update:

TreeHugger.com has an interesting article - Cruise Liner Pollution Kills Up To 8,300 People a Year in US and Canada, says EPA:

". . . the EPA argues that adopting the pollution controls would clear the air of particulates in port cities--and would save 8,300 lives a year. Which would mean that unregulated pollution from cruise lines is currently killing 8,300 people a year in the US and Canada . . .

Of course, the cruise industry execs are crying foul--they complain that the pollution controls would force them to pay up to 40% more for low sulfur fuels, and that they would no longer be able to burn any of the fuels they currently use within 200 miles of land. To which I say, Good. 

To cruise ship executives: I am sorry that your fuel expenses will rise--perhaps you will have to increase the price of admission for your monolithic floating tributes to excess, in order to prevent some 8,300 people from dying every year for the crime of happening to live in port cities.

Okay, so that may have been a tad melodramatic--but it seems to me that there's a pretty strong case for limiting pollution from ships, and that the industry's case against doing so rests only on the complaint that it would be expensive. Thankfully for the 8,300 folks whose lives are likely to be saved by the measure, the proposal looks likely to be adopted by the IMO--leaving the world a slightly less polluted place."

 

Credits:

Royal Caribbean's Vision of the Seas cruise ship    AlaskanLibrarian's Flickr photostream

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

Can Sick Cruise Ships Cause Norovirus Outbreaks in Ports?

A headline in the NoroBlog intrigued me - "Cruise Ships Causing Norovirus Outbreaks in Ports?" - indicating that norovirus is "often associated with cruise ship sickness."  The article also raises the question whether cruise ships can infect the local port communities. 

The cruise industry's PR people have been fighting the connection between norovirus and "cruise ship sickness" for many years.

Sick Cruise Passengers - Norovirus - Sick Cruise Ships Last week the cruise industry's trade organization, Cruise Line International Association (CLIA), wrote a letter to the Daytona Beach News Journal complaining that a writer made a connection between the virus and cruise ships and concluded that this is an illness that happens "often" on cruise ships.

CLIA's letter to the editor stated: "the overwhelming majority of norovirus outbreaks take place at land-based locations, such as schools, day care centers, hospitals and nursing homes."  The one comment to the letter, from a passenger on the norovirus infected Queen Victoria cruise ships, dismissed the letter as "more cover-up from the cruise spokes people."

CLIA has made the "its-a-lot-worse-ashore" argument before.  But arguing that it has a better record than day care centers and nursing homes seems counter-productive to the cruise line's image.  Of course day care centers with a million kids who have not mastered the art of going to the toilet and washing their hands and then wipe their runny noses all over the toys are going to be a hotbed of viruses.  And anyone entering a nursing home filled with incontinent geriatrics can instantly smell feces entering the facility.

The Food Poison Journal (affiliated with the Noroblog) reports that "outbreaks of gastrointestinal illness, and norovirus in particular, are not new to the cruise industry.  In fact, the phenomenon prompted the CDC to create and oversee a "vessel sanitation program (VSP)." 

Arguing against the label "cruise ship sickness" is a waste of time.  The real debate should be whether sick cruise ships pose a health hazard to the local port communities.

In the past six weeks, the United States considered blocking the arrival of the Queen Victoria because of a norovirus outbreak - U.S. to Block Arrival of Queen Victoria After Norovirus Outbreak?  - and a week earlier the U.K. considered impounding the Balmoral cruise ship because of a similar outbreak -  "Cursed Cruise Ship" Balmoral At Risk of Being Impounded As Hundreds More Suffer Vomiting Bug.

Norovirus - Sick Cruise Ships The South Carolina Post and Courier ran an interesting article "Norovirus Confirmed Aboard Mercury" which reported on the concern that the Celebrity Mercury cruise ship - with over 400 norovirus infected passengers - could infect people living in Charleston.  

The newspaper reports that Katie Zimmerman, a project manager with the Coastal Conservation League, received frantic calls and e-mails from residents concerned not only about infected passengers entering the city but also about trash from the ship entering local waters.

Cruise ships like the Mercury can dump completely untreated sewage 12 miles offshore.  Although the article concludes that waste from the Mercury poses no risk to marine life or people who eat local seafood, there is a risk of contaminated water infecting shellfish which filter-feed. 

In this day and age, it is barbaric to think that hundreds of CLIA cruise ships routinely dump human waste into the sea.  Cruise lines dump waste because they register their cruise ships outside of U.S. jurisdiction in places like Liberia and Panama which don't care what the cruise lines do. 

The thought of a cruise ship like the Mercury dumping hundreds of thousands of gallons of norovirus infected feces just 12 miles offshore South Carolina is particularly disgusting. 

Even the worst run child care facilities and nursing homes don't do that.

 

Credits:      

Sick cruise passenger           Bill Mahler's Food Poison Blog

Cruise Cleaners              Telegraph.co.uk  "Cruises: Norovirus Questions & Answers

Polluting Cruise Industry Tries Again to Avoid Alaskan Regulations

Newspapers in Alaska are reporting that cruise lines are trying to avoid Alaska's strict waste water laws. 

The Juneau Empire reports that the cruise industry is complaining to lawmakers in Alaska that the limits on ammonia are too strict.  The cruise industry's "Alaska Cruise Association" - comprised of Miami based cruise lines - is again posturing to reposition its cruise ships if they cannot make a deal which permits them to pollute. 

The cruise industry is known for its strong arm tactics of threatening financial harm to the port cities if they can't get their way around environmental regulations. The newspaper quotes a consultant for the "Alaska Cruise Association, Mike Tibbles, as saying: 

"If this stands, ship deployments could be altered and port times may be reduced," he said. "The result could very likely be fewer economic opportunities for our businesses."

Alaska passed strict wastewater regulations in 2006 for sewage, graywater and other treated water dumped into state waters.

The president of the "Responsible Cruising in Alaska" organization, Chip Thoma, believes that the cruise industry's history of polluting Alaskan waters proves the need to regulate cruise ship discharges: 

"The cruise ships engaged in a great deal of deception to hide their malfeasance." 

Vision of the Seas - Royal Caribbean - Bunker Fuel - Emissions

The carbon footprint of the cruise industry is incredible.  Cruise ships burn nasty bunker fuel and dump millions of gallons of sewage.  If left unregulated, the cruise industry will save money by avoiding implementing new technologies.  We have addressed cruise line pollution and the battle to protect Alaska's waters from the cruise industry's discharges of sewage in prior articles:

Cruise Industry Retaliates Against Green Water Scientist

Cruise Industry Dumps Green Water Scientist Overboard, Appoints Law Firm Employee to Waste Water Panel

Cruise Ship Bunker Fuel - "Thick, Tarry Sludge"

New Report Details Cruise Industry's Record of Pollution

Polluting Cruise Industry Files Lawsuit to Avoid Alaskan Tax

The "Alaska" Cruise Association's Lawsuit Against Alaska - Pay Back By Tax-Avoiding Miami Cruise Lines

Carnival Announces Quarterly Profits of $1,100,000,000 - But Pushes Lawsuit Against Alaska Over $50 Tax

Cruise Industry Exaggerates Effect of $50 Alaska Tax and Hides Financial Information    

Cruise Air Emissions - Vision of the Seas - Royal Caribbean

 

Credits:

Royal Caribbean's Vision of the Seas cruise ship    AlaskanLibrarian's Flickr photostream

Celebrity Cruises' Mercury cruise ship                      AlaskanLibrarian's Flickr photostream

Cruise Industry Dumps Green Water Scientist Overboard, Appoints Law Firm Employee to Waste Water Panel

There is an interesting article today in the Juneau Empire "Legislators Debate Removal of Cruise Panel Member Cohen - Cruise Ally Defends Removal of Industry Foe."

Craig Johnson - Cruise Line Supporter - Alaska The article points out that a Republican legislator, Craig Johnson (photo left), is defending the removal of waste water scientist Gershon Cohen (photo below) from a cruise ship science advisory panel at the insistence of the cruise industry. Representative Johnson is quoted as stating: "I applaud the department for doing the right thing and depoliticizing the panel."

"Depoliticizing the panel?"  

Representative Johnson is known for co-sponsoring a bill to repeal a water-pollution provision in a cruise-ship law that voters approved in 2006.  The Alaskan law prevents state regulators from granting "mixing zones" to cruise ships which would permit the ships' pollution discharge to exceed state standards.  The cruise industry has been lobbying heavily to avoid the strict pollution regulations in Alaska. 

Dumping Mr. Cohen overboard is an end run around environmental laws which protect Alaskan waters.   

While representative Johnson supports sinking Mr. Cohen (who has a master's degree in molecular biology and a doctorate in environmental policy), he supports the appointment of an employee of a law firm which represents the cruise industry on water regulatory issues.

The waste water panel includes Mr. Lincoln Loehr, who is described as a paralegal employed by the law firm of Stoel Rives LLP.  Mr. Loehr works with lawyers who represent the interests of cruise Cruise Ship Pollution - Alaskalines and other large corporate polluters.  In addition to cruise lines, the Stoel Rives law firm brochure states that their lawyers represent the interests of:

 .  .  . chemical plants, mines, power plants, pulp and paper mills, ranches, food processors, steel mills and real estate developers.

The law firm advertises its ability to handle water quality matters "that can severely impact business operations."

Representative Johnson is also quoted in the article as questioning climate change and arguing that science is too often being "politicized."  While claiming to want to "depoliticize" the panel by removing Mr. Cohen, representative Johnson actually wants to politicize the panel with friends of the cruise industry.  

Democratic representative Beth Kerttula stated the obvious: "A number of us have grave, grave Gershon Cohen - Green Waterconcerns about the agency's behavior and about the credibility of the panel as it will now be." 

We pointed out in a prior blog article that Mr. Cohen assisted Alaska in adopting laws to protect its waters from cruise ship pollution.

Representative Johnson and other Republican legislators fit squarely in the cruise industry's pocket.  Dumping Mr. Cohen is pay back, pure and simple, for his protection of Alaska against the $35 billion cruise industry's corporate practices. With Mr. Cohen out of the picture, the cruise industry will pressure its friends on the panel members to devise water quality matters with the cruise industry's business interests in mind.   

The issue is not an academic debate. Just take a look at how one cruise line, Princess Cruises, repeatedly violated Alaskan waster water regulations:    

In September, the Diamond Princess, Island Princess, Pacific  PrincessSapphire Princess and Sea Princess were cited for violating the Alaska waste water quality standards.  Again, in October, the Diamond Princess, Island Princess, Pacific Princess, Sapphire Princess and Sea Princess - together with the Golden Princess - were cited for water discharge violations.

In November, the same culprits - the Diamond Princess, Island Princess, Sea Princess, Golden Princess and Diamond Princess were busted for pollution.

The result of a cruise industry dominated waste water panel will be greater discharges of copper, ammonia, zinc, bacteria and fecal matter into Alaska's pristine waters.

Coral Princess - Alaska - Pollution - Waste Water Violations

 

If you are interested in other articles regarding cruise pollution, consider reading some of our other articles:

Super Ships - Rogues on the High Seas

Cruise Ship Bunker Fuel - "Thick, Tarry Sludge"

New Report Details Cruise Industry's Record of Pollution

Also consider reading:

"Cruise on Down to our Dumping Ground

 

Credits:

Representative Craig Johnson                  Alaskan State Legislature

Gershon Cohen                    Clean Water Network

Coral Princess     AP via New York Time "Cruise Lines Face More Policing of Waste Disposal"

New Report Details Cruise Industry's Record of Pollution

A report entitled "Getting a Grip on Cruise Pollutionreleased today by the Friends of the Earth (FOE) organization concludes that the billions of dollars earned by the cruise industry Friends of the Earth - Cruise Ship Pollution each year comes at a significant cost to our nation’s air and water.

The report was
researched and authored by Ross Klein, a Professor and independent expert on cruise ship pollution.  Professor Klein takes a detailed look at the various ways in which the cruise industry has harmed - and continues to harm - the environments in which cruise ships travel.

“This report provides a vital resource to anyone concerned about the cruise industry’s environmental impacts. With today’s launch of the largest cruise ship ever built - Royal Caribbean's Oasis of the Seas - the report shines a light on an industry that has long avoided comprehensive environmental regulation and pollution controls,” said Marcie Keever, FOE's Earth’s Clean Vessels Campaign Director. “Cruise ships continue to dump sewage into our waters and poison our Oasis of the Seas - Pollution - Emissionsair with engines that burn bottom-of-the barrel bunker fuel.”

"Getting a Grip on Cruise Ship Pollution" 
looks at all aspects of the cruise industry, from its pollution streams, to its history of environmental violations, to the modest number of environmental laws that govern the industry. The report also contains a wide-ranging set of policy recommendations, providing solutions for comprehensive environmental reform of the cruise industry.

To learn more, visit the Friends of Earth website.


Resources:

Catalog of cruise industry environmental violations, fines and other incidents: Professor Ross Klein's website CruiseJunkie

Overview of cruise ship pollution from Friends of the Earth website.

Source: Friends of the Earth news release. FOE is the U.S. voice of the world's largest grassroots environmental network, with member groups in 77 countries. Since 1969, FOE has fought to create a more healthy, just world.

Credit:

Oasis of the Seas       Kenneth Karsten via shipspotting.com