Legislature(2001 - 2002)
2001-03-14 House JournalFull Journal pdf
2001-03-14 House Journal Page 0586 HB 183 HOUSE BILL NO. 183 by the House Rules Committee by request of the Governor, entitled: "An Act establishing the Alaska Commercial Passenger Vessel Coastal Protection Program for certain vessels with overnight accommodations for 50 or more passengers, including a permit and fees for such vessels operating in waters of this state, oversight of the program by the Department of Environmental Conservation, civil and criminal liability for violations of the program, and recognition of superior environmental performance by vessels subject to the program; creating a commercial passenger vessel coastal protection fund; and providing for an effective date." was read the first time and referred to the Transportation, Resources, Judiciary, and Finance Committees. The following fiscal note(s) apply: 1. Fiscal, Dept. of Environmental Conservation 2. Fiscal, Dept. of Law 3. Fiscal, Dept. of Transportation & Public Facilities The Governor's transmittal letter dated March 9, 2001, appears below: 2001-03-14 House Journal Page 0587 "Dear Speaker Porter: This bill I transmit today creates a comprehensive program to protect Alaska's pristine coastal environment from pollution emanating from passenger ships that ply our waters. In the last ten years, the number of visitors traveling in Alaska on cruise ships increased from less than 200,000 to more than 640,000 and the forecast is for continued growth. Before the late 1990's most cruise ships carried fewer than 1,500 people. Newer ships carry up to 3,500 passengers and crew and that number will soon reach more than 4,500 on ships now under construction. The number of cruise ship passengers and crew on Southeast Alaska waters at any one time can equal the population of the region's largest city. Like any city, this concentration of people will generate solid and liquid waste and air emissions. Alaska has comprehensive laws in place for monitoring and controlling the discharges from our land-based cities. We have reached the point where similar programs must be put in place for the floating cities on our waters. This bill creates a comprehensive permitting program for cruise ships covering wastewater, solid waste, and air emissions. This innovative program is carefully designed to protect our coastal environment while making it as easy as possible for the cruise industry to do business in Alaska. Each ship would carry a single permit per season covering water, land, and air. Cruise ship operators would automatically obtain a permit through a simple notification procedure with the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC). With the notification, operators state their intent to enter Alaska waters, agree to abide by the standard terms of the permit, and state where the owners or their agents may be found if anything goes wrong. The exact conditions of the permit would be developed through a public regulation-making process involving the industry and building upon the extensive work of the Alaska Cruise Ship Initiative, a group composed of federal, state, local, and industry representatives. The regulations would generally require reports related to the release of pollutants, sampling waste discharges, limitations on the times, locations and composition of waste discharges, and development of plans for the safe management of wastes. The bill specifically 2001-03-14 House Journal Page 0588 provides that reporting, sampling, and limitations, where practicable, be consistent with existing federal law and tailored to different classes of vessels to reduce any unnecessary burden on the permitees. The program minimizes paperwork and includes field verification of the effectiveness of industry's performance through direct discharge monitoring. The industry is civilly and criminally liable for any violations, with consequences consistent with those faced by other facilities operating in the state. Similar to other industries using the state's infrastructure, services, and natural resources, cruise ships must bear the cost of the coastal protection program that safeguards the pristine and picturesque environment upon which their business is based. The bill establishes a fee system based on the amount of business conducted in Alaska waters, and is limited to recoupment of the costs of carrying out the program. Finally, the bill acknowledges the importance of the voluntary efforts of the cruise industry in going beyond compliance with the letter of the law, through a program to recognize and reward superior environmental performance. This innovative program fairly, efficiently, and comprehensively addresses the environmental challenges of increasing cruise ship activity in Alaska. I urge your prompt consideration and passage of this bill. Sincerely, /s/ Tony Knowles Governor"