Administration Drops Cruise Ship Proposal After Protests by Senator Stevens
Rule would have hurt Alaska cruise industry
After Senator Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) voiced his strong opposition to imposing a new U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CPB) rule on Alaska, the White House decided to reject the proposal Friday.
The CPB proposed rule under the Passenger Vessel Services Act would have required any foreign-flagged cruise ships that begin and end their trips in U.S. ports to spend at least one day in foreign ports for every two days in U.S. ports.
"I made sure that the voices of Alaskans were heard, and I appreciate that the White House ultimately agreed with Alaskans," said Senator Stevens. "The economy of Southeast Alaska relies heavily on tourism, and this rule would have cut the number of cruise ships coming to Southeast, and the time tourists would get to spend in our ports. I spent lots of time explaining the impacts of these changes to Secretary Chertoff."
The Senator questioned Michael Chertoff, Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, on this issue most recently during a Senate Appropriations subcommittee hearing. He stressed that the rule had originally only been designed to affect Hawaii, and had no place in the rules governing Alaska's cruises. At that time, the Secretary assured Senator Stevens that Homeland Security would make its decision quickly and that he would personally review any rule changes.
If the rule had been applied to Alaska, it would have disrupted cruises that carry passengers between Seattle and Alaska. It is estimated that 190 foreign-flagged cruise ships carried over 750,000 passengers from Seattle to Alaska in 2007. Currently, no large U.S.-flagged cruise ships travel to Alaska. Many cruises destined for Alaska would likely have been eliminated as a result of this rule.