Commentary: Compromise needed on cruise ship pollution standards

This editorial appeared in The Anchorage Daily News.

Backers of current cruise ship pollution standards have a compromise in the works that's fair, reasonable and should satisfy both the industry and its critics.

The compromise would keep the current standards in place and not allow mixing zones. That means that cruise waste would be measured for pollutants "at the point of discharge" – the end of the pipe – rather than allow for dilution a certain distance from the pipe.

The Alaska Cruise Association and other industry groups have argued that the end-of-pipe rules are unfair and too stringent for some ships, especially for copper and ammonia, and to a lesser extent for nickel and zinc. House Bill 134 would delete the stricter point-of-discharge standard.

Sponsors of the 2006 Cruise Ship Ballot Initiative, voted into law by Alaskans, argue that the cruise lines can meet the tougher standards with more effort – and that some ships already comply with the new permit standards.

Their proposed substitute for HB 134 takes another tack: Keep the strict standard, but give cruise lines more time to meet it – provided they show progress in doing so.

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

Related stories from McClatchy DC