Executive Briefings

Alaska Sues U.S. Over New International Ship Pollution Regulations

In an effort to prevent higher freight rates and more expensive cruise prices, Alaska has sued to block rules intended to limit pollution from large ships.

Set to take effect Aug. 1st, the new limitations will require that cargo carriers and cruise ships use a low-sulfur fuel within 200 miles of U.S. and Canadian shores. Created by the U.S. and agreed to by other nations as part of an international treaty, the new rules affect much of the North American coast and Hawaii. However, Alaskan officials say they will have an inconsistent effect on the state and want to keep them from being enforced in waters off Alaska's coast.

The state, using estimates, claims that enforcing these guidelines could result in an 8-percent shipping cost increase and nearly $20 more per day for cruise ship passengers. The state says the latter is likely to lead to a decline in Alaska's tourism industry. Governmental representatives believe that this shows how disconnected Alaska is from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

The EPA has confirmed that ships are large contributors to emissions in the U.S. and Canada, and most are foreign-flagged or registered elsewhere. The rules were first proposed in 2007; since at least 2009, the governor and members of the congressional delegation have pushed back against the plan.

Aware of Alaska's concerns, the EPA is working with cruise lines and one of Alaska's largest shipping companies, Totem Ocean Trailer Express, on alternatives that would allow them to still meet the emissions requirements.

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Set to take effect Aug. 1st, the new limitations will require that cargo carriers and cruise ships use a low-sulfur fuel within 200 miles of U.S. and Canadian shores. Created by the U.S. and agreed to by other nations as part of an international treaty, the new rules affect much of the North American coast and Hawaii. However, Alaskan officials say they will have an inconsistent effect on the state and want to keep them from being enforced in waters off Alaska's coast.

The state, using estimates, claims that enforcing these guidelines could result in an 8-percent shipping cost increase and nearly $20 more per day for cruise ship passengers. The state says the latter is likely to lead to a decline in Alaska's tourism industry. Governmental representatives believe that this shows how disconnected Alaska is from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

The EPA has confirmed that ships are large contributors to emissions in the U.S. and Canada, and most are foreign-flagged or registered elsewhere. The rules were first proposed in 2007; since at least 2009, the governor and members of the congressional delegation have pushed back against the plan.

Aware of Alaska's concerns, the EPA is working with cruise lines and one of Alaska's largest shipping companies, Totem Ocean Trailer Express, on alternatives that would allow them to still meet the emissions requirements.

Read Full Article