Sen. Murkowski Comments on TOTE ECA Waiver
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, today issued the following response to the announcement that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and U.S. Coast Guard have approved an Emission Control Areas waiver for Totem Ocean Trailer Express (TOTE), allowing the company to use liquefied natural gas (LNG) to meet new stricter air quality requirements.
“I have been urging the EPA for months to work with the freight and cruise ship industry to lessen the economic burden that the new ECA rules will impose on Alaskans,” Murkowski said. “While this deal helps one company, it does not address who will pay for the additional investments and costs required for TOTE and others to meet the new fuel standards, a total that could run into the hundreds of millions of dollars. My fear is that the total costs of compliance will simply be passed on to Alaskans.”
The waiver will give TOTE four years to convert its two Alaska-bound ships to LNG, instead of having to switch immediately to more costly fuel. Murkowski believes the EPA still needs to provide greater flexibility to freight and cruise ship companies.
The EPA was a major proponent of including waters off southern and southeastern Alaska in an international ECA, despite the fact that the agency has no Alaska-specific air quality data to justify the need for the stricter fuel requirements.
Since 2009, Murkowski has been pressing EPA to reduce the burden on Alaska in order to avoid causing prices for consumer goods – which predominately arrive by ocean freight – and the cost of visiting Alaska by cruise ship to increase without good reason.
She asked EPA to work with shipping companies doing business in Alaska on a waiver and asked the agency to accept a pilot project that would help both cruise ships and freight haulers to comply with the ECA at lower costs and would require specific air quality monitoring in Alaska. Murkowski sent a letter (attached) to President Obama on Tuesday, calling on the administration to address the issue of increased shipping costs associated with the implementation of the ECA.