Alaska cruise ship bill stalls in state Senate

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NEW YORK -- A bill that would give Alaska the nation's toughest cruise-ship waste-disposal regulations stalled in the state Senate May 6, days after being passed by Alaska's House.

Sen. John Cowdery (R-Anchorage), chairman of the Transportation Committee, said the measure won't make it out of his panel before the session adjourns Tuesday. "It's not a good bill... and I don't believe in passing it out and let[ting] the next committee straighten it out."

Cowdery says the measure is unfair, in part because it would require smaller vessels to meet the same enviromental standards as large cruise ships. Cowdery added that unincorporated communities in Alaska would not be held to the same environmental-disposal standards as cruise ships.

The Alaska House of Representatives last week approved the legislation, H.B. 260, which would give Alaska the authority to set, monitor and enforce standards for cruise ship air emissions and water and solid waste disposal.

The bill also would establish an environmental monitoring program to be funded by a $1 per passenger fee on cruise ships.

The bill would furthermore require cruise lines operating in Alaska to register with the state and agree to comply with state standards.

Gov. Tony Knowles said the bill would give Alaska "all the tools necessary to inspect, to enforce, to monitor all [cruise ship] discharges and to identify pollutants."

In a statement issued Saturday, John Hansen, president of the North West CruiseShip Assn., encouraged the Senate to approve the legislation "without adding additional taxes" and said cruise operators will proceed under the bill's environmental provisions if the bill fails to pass.

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