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April 23, 2014

VITAMIN DEMOCRACY! Alaska’s Salmon Need You!

salmon1You may think Governor Sean Parnell plays lap dog to oil industry – and you’d be right. He does answer to more than one master. The Miami Mob, the cruise ship industry whistles and he comes running.

SB29 and HB80 are the governor’s sweetheart deal to cruise ship industry. You may remember we Alaskans, through a ballot initiative, raised standards on cruise ship water dumping and implemented a head tax several years ago. The governor rolled that back saying visitors to our great state were going to cross a cruise to Alaska off their bucket list because of a $50 head tax. Since the roll back, cruise companies have raised their prices 70% and people keep coming. Profits are up for the companies and many destination towns are locked out of revenue to pay for the infrastructure needed to accommodate the floating cities.

 

The bills, on fast track lower the water emission standards – including copper. Copper, at 3 parts per billion, destroys the natural Garmin system in salmon that allows them to find their way back to the river bed they were spawned in.

Today the House will take testimony at 1:30 and the Senate at 3:30 on these two bills.

The call in number for both hearings is 1-855-463-5009.

If you can’t make the hearing, please email your representative and senator and ask them to protect our salmon by voting no.

The governor has a new “opinion” line where you can leave a message. (Keep it clean, people.) That number is 907-465-3982.

Here is some great info on the bill from APRN if you’d like to read more.

Oh, and who are we dealing with here? Felons.

Celebrity Cruises is owned by Royal Caribbean Cruises, Ltd. A criminal case brought by the US Department of Justice, Royal Caribbean pled guilty to 21 felonies, six of which were for illegal discharge of PERC into several US ports. The other felonies concerned routine illegal dumping of oil and the falsification of documents to cover it up. RCCL was fined $27 million and lost permits in Glacier Bay.

  • In April, Carnival Corp. pleaded guilty to falsifying records to cover up oil pollution by six ships over several years. It paid an $18 million fine, and the company is on probation. A new violation could prompt new criminal charges.
  • In late September, a fired Carnival Cruise Lines executive filed a whistle-blower lawsuit alleging a host of environmental and safety violations, including toxic-chemical dumping, on ships sailed by Carnival, Holland America, Cunard and Costa to many ports around the USA. Carnival Corp. owns all those lines. The allegations have not been proved, and Carnival Corp. has not commented on them.
  • On Oct. 15, Carnival Corp. disclosed in a government filing that officers from one of its Holland America ships have been subpoenaed to testify before a federal grand jury in Alaska investigating a spill of wastewater in Juneau Bay in August. The Coast Guard in Alaska estimates 40,000 gallons went overboard.
  • After a judge ruled the government did have jurisdiction, Royal Caribbean pleaded guilty to 30 criminal charges in Miami, New York, Puerto Rico, Los Angeles, the Virgin Islands and Alaska. It paid $27 million in fines in 1998 and ’99. The line has since implemented a companywide environmental compliance program.
  • When subpoenas arrived at Carnival Corp. a year later, the corporate response was far different. Carnival didn’t question jurisdiction and instead handed over 1,200 boxes of records and began negotiating a deal. In April, the company pleaded guilty in Miami, agreed to set up a compliance program and paid an $18 million fine.
  • Just three months later, Justice announced Norwegian’s guilty plea and $1 million fine. The government’s press release said Norwegian, a Bermuda corporation, had turned itself in and lauded the company’s “corporate citizenship.” In its own announcement, Norwegian said only that it had “discovered reporting irregularities” and “immediately reported these problems to the government.”

http://www.earthisland.org/csaw/Gen_Cruise_web_docs/Cruise_Industry_Overview_2008.pdf

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6 Responses to “VITAMIN DEMOCRACY! Alaska’s Salmon Need You!”
  1. Shannyn – something we agree on! However, I thought Senate Bill 29 and House Bill 80 said that the water has to treated first before dumping? Still, our oceans are certainly not trash cans. Wastewater discharge, ballast dumping, ANY untreated discharge into our oceans is and should always be unacceptable.
    Did you know the Soldotna Wastewater Treatment plant dumps directly into the Kenai River? Yikes! I can only imagine the mutations of fish going on down in the water. We allow it based on the treatment standards put into law. Still its very scary and any law easing up restrictions on dumping into our waters should be strongly analyzed, tried and tested.

  2. Ivan says:

    It never ceases to amaze me how for the sake of buck the republicans are willing to crap in their own food dish. (In this case , literally)

  3. Alaska Cod Piece says:

    From Lanie Welch’s column this week at Sitnews:

    Cruise crud – Discharge laws for cruise ships will be watered down if Governor Parnell gets his way.
    Senate Bill 29 and House Bill 80, introduced by Parnell, would delete a statutory requirement for the ships to meet Alaska Water Quality Standards at the point of discharge. Current law requires that the vessels cannot discharge untreated sewage, treated sewage, gray water or other wastewaters in a manner that violates limits under state or federal law. According to the Cordova Times, the proposed legislation would allow cruise ships to discharge their wastewater into “mixing zones”, which would be allowed in any area through which the cruise ship is traveling.
    The Parnell bills would overturn the provision of the cruise ship discharge law passed by popular vote in Alaska in 2006, Gershon Cohen of Haines told the Times. Cohen co-sponsored the 2006 Cruise Ship ballot measure that created the current rules.
    “The governor is going after the initiative to undo what the people of Alaska put in place, and simply has no concern for the democratic process that created the existing statute,” Cohen said.
    Weakening the regulations comes at the request of the cruise ship industry, according to international maritime attorney Jim Walker of Miami.
    “The cruise industry bullied Alaska, threatening the state with pulling ships from Alaska if the wastewater standards were not relaxed,” Walker wrote on his blog http://www.cruiselaw.com . “The real issue has always been the issue of whether the cruise industry would permit a state like Alaska to regulate it,” Walker wrote. “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.”
    Gershon Cohen added that fishermen should be “outraged” by the cruise ship crud proposal, as it will besmirch the “wild and natural/taken from pristine waters” brand for Alaska salmon, which the industry has worked tenaciously for decades to create.
    “If I were in the farmed fish business, I would be posting photos of cruise ships discharging into waters where these fish are caught,” he said.
    The 2011 cruise season was expecting 27 ships to visit Alaska, cruising 447 voyages and carrying 887,000 passengers, according to the latest data from the Resource Development Council.

  4. Zyxomma says:

    I knew there was a reason I’ve never taken a cruise on one of those floating hotels. I prefer ships with sails. In fact, I love to sail. I’ve considered river cruises (mostly those offered by American Museum of Natural History), but they’ve been too expensive for my current financial condition.

    Bring back the Head Tax, Alaska!! Anyone taking an Alaska cruise can afford it.

    • Alaska Pi says:

      We still have a head tax of sorts, Zyx
      http://www.cruisecritic.com/news/news.cfm?ID=3954
      It has been quite interesting to watch the cruise companies play all these games these past few years.
      Apparently we are to believe head taxes are to blame for a decline in passengers in 2009 and 2010. A record setting recession which hit the whole of the country could not have anything to do with a decline in folks on holiday, could it? I mean really.
      The fit of pique which we saw in the companies not sending their ships here for a couple of years could not possibly have anything to do with trying to strong arm Alaska could it? Oh never.
      The list is long but at bottom these ships sail through rich fishing waters with +/- 1 million visitors aboard every year and really would like us to just be happy with dollars spent in port and get off the subject of the waters which sustain us here. Pfft.

  5. UgaVic says:

    Thanks for giving us some information to arm ourselves with as we testify and write our reps. I have five who basically represent our area and industry in Bristol Bay and they will all get a letter from me on this subject.

    It would be nice to add that tax back in and assist our smaller towns and villages with some of the things they need to handle this industry.

    The Alaska government talks all the time about making a wider base for economic development and yet they make it harder and harder for our town and villages to prosper from these ‘developments’, how wrong is that??

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