HB 80, a bill to remove cruise ship/large passenger vessel water quality discharge standards in Alaska, and revert them to the way it used to be before a 2006 citizen’s initiative called for stricter requirements took effect, has been fast-tracked through the state legislature. It passed the House February 4th, and is now going to the state senate for approval. In proposing the bill, Governor Parnell drew from some points made in his hand-picked science-team’s preliminary report on the issue. The bill discontinues the work of the team mid-way, however, not allowing the team to take the additional two years promised to complete studying the issue and producing a final report. To learn more about this bill, and the science team’s report, and internal dissenter, there are some very interesting articles in the Anchorage Daily News, which can be read on ADN.com
Read more here: Science panel report used to push cruise ship bill after DEC said it wouldn’t., published: February 9, 2013 (Sunday edition by Richard Mauer.)
Or this Anchorage Daily News editorial: Our View: Cruise ship bill needs a cold, hard look – not a rush job
Seward typically sees three to four cruise ships per week, sometimes more from mid- May through early September, some carrying up to 3,000 passengers and even more crew members.
Rep. Paul Seaton, of Homer, was the only republican House member to vote against the bill. He had hoped for greater protection for critical fish habitats:
“It changes the standards that were put in place by the voter initiative and
allows permanent mixing zones. I voted against passage because removal of the
target standards, rather than giving the ships longer to comply as technology
improves, will not lower pollution in confined state waters and can impact other
resources. I am disappointed that DEC was unwilling to remove the agency’s
ability to allow these discharges in the 6 statutorily designated Critical
Habitats, including Kachemak Bay. I hope in the end more consideration will be
given to reducing the impact of discharges from one million cruise ship visitors
per year and we can avoid potential conflicts with other uses of our sensitive
coastal waters.” (quoted from Seaton’s weekly newsletter to his constituents).