Legislature(2001 - 2002)

2001-03-14 House Journal

Full 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                               
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.                                                                                          
                                Tony Knowles