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."
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 lines 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 concerns 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 Princess, Sapphire 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.
If you are interested in other articles regarding cruise pollution, consider reading some of our other articles:
Also consider reading:
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"