Resource Development Council

RDC Letter:
Support of HB 80 - Relating to the Regulation of Wastewater

February 6, 2013

The Honorable Pete Kelly, Co-Chair
The Honorable Kevin Meyer, Co-Chair
Alaska State Senate, Finance Committee
State Capitol Room 532
Juneau, AK 99801

Re: House Bill 80 – An Act relating to the regulation of wastewater discharge from commercial passenger vessels in state waters; and providing for an effective date.

Dear Senator Kelly and Senator Meyer:

The Resource Development Council for Alaska (RDC) is writing to support the timely passage of HB 80 by the Senate Finance Committee.

RDC is a statewide, non-profit, membership-funded organization founded in 1975. The RDC membership is comprised of individuals and companies from Alaska’s oil and gas, mining, timber, tourism, and fisheries industries, as well as Alaska Native corporations, local communities, organized labor, and industry support firms. RDC’s purpose is to link these diverse interests together to encourage a strong, diversified private sector in Alaska and expand the state’s economic base through the responsible development of our natural resources.

It is a top legislative priority of RDC to encourage the state to promote and defend the integrity of Alaska’s permitting process and advocate for predictable, timely, and efficient state and federal permitting processes based on sound science and economic feasibility.

RDC applauds the tireless work of the Cruise Ship Science Advisory Panel (SAP). The SAP group has met at least 15 times to help provide information that can help shape a more rational wastewater discharge policy for the cruise industry.

The SAP findings clearly show that attaining current water quality standards at the point of discharge from cruise ships is not feasible and not necessary to protect public health and aquatic species. RDC would not be supporting HB 80 if it jeopardized the health and productivity of our fisheries.

HB 80 establishes a policy that is based on sound science and economic feasibility. Many technological and management advances have been made by the cruise industry to protect the environment. The advanced systems on the cruise ships are far cleaner than existing municipal systems and other vessels plying Alaska’s waters.

Adjusting the statutory requirements for cruise ship discharge based on the findings of three years of objective study is sound governance, and the type of permitting adjustments that lead to a stronger economy while protecting Alaska’s renewable resources.

Many small businesses and communities rely on the business activity the cruise industry generates. Each year, about 60 percent of Alaska’s visitors arrive in the state via cruise ship. This action to increase cruise ship visits will increase benefits to Alaskan businesses, while not causing harm to the environment.

Moreover, RDC discourages the setting standards for discharges through the initiative process, regardless of the industry. Investment in Alaska must be encouraged, by allowing reasonable and attainable standards for all industries. Alaska regulators should be provided with the tools to use the best available science, as they do with all industries in Alaska, to establish safe discharge limits that will protect Alaska’s clean water.

RDC supports quick passage of HB 80 to ensure reasonable permit standards are in place for the upcoming 2013 season and forward.

Resource Development Council for Alaska