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HB80 not in Alaskans' best interests

Posted: February 25, 2013 - 1:16pm

Gov. Parnell has proposed legislation to allow cruise ships to dump "partially" treated sewage and heavy metals in Alaska state waters. HB80 would overturn the 2006 citizens' initiative to regulate the cruise ship industry. As a commercial fisherman, I am strongly opposed to HB80. This act would harm Alaska's fisheries and tarnish our reputation.
The citizens' initiative that Parnell and Giessel are trying to repeal says cruise ships "may not discharge untreated sewage, treated sewage, graywater or other wastewaters in a manner that violates any applicable effluent limits or standards under state or federal law, including Alaska Water Quality Standards governing pollution at the point of discharge." Parnell's bill, HB80, would repeal the last clause of this law so that dumping of 'partially' treated sewage and wastewater in Alaska state waters could be considered adequate "treatment."
The 2006 citizens' initiative was passed by the people of Alaska. The Northwest Cruiseship Association spent $1,344,244 to oppose this regulation, while the opposition spent less than $8,500. Our legislators should not sell out our fishery and our future to the highest bidder.
It makes no sense that a representative from the Kenai Peninsula would support this bill, which harms our fisheries ... until you follow the money. An executive from Holland America made the maximum allowable campaign contribution to Sen. Cathy Giessel during the last election. All told, the cruise industry is spending over $390,000 on campaign contributions and lobbyists to pass HB80. Outside CEOs and Washington D.C. lobbyists have big money to push this bill. In fact, the CEOs/presidents of Carnival, Princess, Holland America and Royal Caribbean, none of whom live in Alaska, have all contributed money to the Republican legislators in Juneau who are pushing this bill.
Those pushing this bill claim that "mixing zones" are adequate treatment of partially-treated sewage and heavy metals. "Mixing zones" are just areas of our state waters. They are where I fish, and many other residents of the Kenai earn a living or go sport fishing. Alaska's fisheries should not be the dumping grounds for the cruise ship industry.
Sadly, Sen. Giessel is a leading proponent of HB80. She not only supports this bill to allow partially treated sewage and heavy metals to contaminate our fisheries, but also led Senate Republican efforts to block all amendments to HB80. Sen. Hollis French led an effort, supported by the United Fishermen of Alaska, which would have required any cruise dumping to take place at least two miles offshore. Giessel claimed that "science" didn't support that amendment. I don't need a Ph.D to understand that sewage and salmon don't mix.
Giessel even blocked an amendment, which would have required public disclosure of where dumping takes place. I don't want to fish right where thousands of gallons of "partially" treated sewage just got dumped and I want to know what is dumped in Alaskan waters.
Thanks to Giessel and Parnell, if HB80 passes we won't have the right to know where cruise ships are dumping their filth. We need for our legislators to represent all Alaskans' interests, not those of Outside lobbyists and corporate contributors. Thousands of Kenai Peninsula residents rely on Alaska's fisheries to support our families. Cathy Giessel and Sean Parnell should be ashamed of selling us out to a bunch of Outside lobbyists and CEOs. Those lobbyists will never have to fish right where a cruise ship's "partially" treated sewage got dumped. Fishermen from the Kenai Peninsula certainly will.
James Price
Nikiski

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