Alaska cruise industry wants pollution rule changed

The Alaska cruise industry and its supporters in some coastal communities are pleading with legislators this winter to abolish a strict water-pollution rule approved by voters in 2006 as part of an ambitious ramp-up of state oversight of the industry.

But so far, they're having trouble getting traction in Juneau.

After weeks of knocking on doors in the Capitol, the cruise industry still needs its legislative champion.

Some legislators see the absence of a bill as a sign that their colleagues are nervous about messing around with a voter-enacted law. Besides requiring cruise ships to meet tougher pollution standards, the new law put new taxes, fees and environmental monitoring on the industry.

To House Minority Leader Beth Kerttula, D-Juneau, revising the pollution rule seems premature because the cruise lines have until next year to comply.

"It's kind of a hard sell," she said.

But some Republican leaders expect a bill to be introduced soon.

"I don't think people are afraid to touch the initiative," said House Speaker Mike Chenault, R-Nikiski. He said the pollution rule received much less public attention than other parts of the law when it was being debated in 2006 in a costly ballot measure campaign. To him, it appears to be too punitive.

He's heard that legislators might be working on draft legislation. But he hasn't seen anything yet.

To read the complete article, visit The Anchorage Daily News.