Governor Sean Parnell today released a statement after Carnival Cruise Lines announced an agreement with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to resolve a dispute over the EPA's implementation of Emissions Control Areas (ECA), where the EPA originally required marine vessels traveling in these areas to buy and use costly low-sulfur fuel.
Alaska filed suit against the federal government, citing the fact that the government never obtained the consent of Congress to support the international treaty amendment that created the Emissions Control Area. The state contends the EPA failed to use sound scientific or environmental evidence when including Alaska in the ECA.
"I am heartened that the EPA is responding by allowing other options to be used to reduce emissions, rather than mandating the use of cost-prohibitive, low-sulfur fuel," Governor Parnell said. "Alaska must remain a competitive cruise destination, so Alaska's small and mid-sized businesses can flourish. After reducing the cruise passenger tax in 2010, passenger traffic to Alaska is on track to top one million this year, the first time in many years. The ECA fuel requirement represented a real setback because it increased the cost of travel and freight to Alaska. It is, in essence, an unfair financial penalty to Alaskans who, because of our geography, already have a high cost of living."
The latest announcement of increased costs to Alaskans caused by the ECA was from Lynden Transport, whose fuel costs have increased by six percent since May.
"I remain concerned about cost increases for food and other ocean freight to Alaska, increases that will inevitably be passed on to Alaskans," Governor Parnell added. "Whether cost increases result from the EPA forcing shippers to use much more expensive fuel or because companies are forced to purchase new equipment and facilities, Alaska's families and businesses bear the brunt of this ill-conceived regulation. The state will keep the pressure on the EPA to be reasonable."
The state's case against the EPA is pending.