House committee approves cruise ship pollution bill

Posted: Thursday, March 23, 2000

JUNEAU (AP) -- A House committee approved a bill that would require big cruise ships to provide detailed reports on pollutants they produce.

The House Transportation Committee approved the measure Tuesday on a 3-2 vote. The bill would require that passenger ships over 300 gross tons register with the state and file pollutant reports with the Department of Environmental Conservation.

About 550 cruise ships visited Alaska last summer, bringing in about 700,000 tourists, said the bill's sponsor, Democratic Rep. Beth Kerttula.

She said the bill would put the cruise ship industry in line with the mining, oil and seafood processing industries, which all must submit environmental reports with the state.

No representatives of the major cruise lines testified at the hearing. All those who did testify favored the measure, including representatives of the Department of Environmental Conservation, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Coast Guard and cruise lines running smaller vessels not covered by the bill.

''We don't have the facts about the environmental impacts of these floating cities, ... and that is unacceptable,'' said Mike Conway, with DEC.

Reps. Andrew Halcro, an Anchorage Republican, and Democrats Al Kookesh of Angoon and Allen Kemplen of Anchorage voted in favor of the measure.

Three more House committees must consider the measure before it can go to the House floor for approval. If approved, it would be taken up by a Senate committee before going to the governor for his signature.

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