Commentary: Cut ships a small break in cruise waste law

This editorial appeared in The Anchorage Daily News.

The cruise industry finally found its champion to knock five words out of the 2006 cruise ship initiative. Former House Speak John Harris, R-Valdez, is sponsoring legislation to amend the initiative-passed law by deleting this phrase: "At the point of discharge."

What difference does it make.

The amendment would allow the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation to issue permits to cruise ships for wastewater discharge that in effect allows a mixing zone, whereby pollution is measured after it hits the water and is diluted. That's a standard allowed for shore-based sewage treatment throughout the state.

As it stands now, cruise ships have to meet discharge rules stricter than any other operation in Alaska. They can meet them in most categories, except for copper and ammonia. Even in those cases, their effluent is cleaner than what DEC allows sewage treatment plants.

The initiative is clear – no mixing zones. So the cruise industry wants DEC to have the authority to cut them some slack.

That's fair – to a point.

To read the complete editorial, visit The Anchorage Daily News.

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