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Sen. Murkowski Comments on Alaska’s Challenge to Low Sulfur Fuel


WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, today applauded Alaska Gov. Sean Parnell for challenging the Environmental Protection Agency in court over new low-sulfur fuel standards for marine ocean carriers being imposed on Alaska-going vessels.

“Given the immediacy of the threat that these requirements pose to Alaska, Gov. Parnell’s decision to file litigation against the EPA is the right one,” Murkowski said. “The only way to avoid the damage these requirements will cause is for a judge to issue a stay against them before they go into effect Aug. 1.”

The EPA is requiring marine ocean carriers, including cruise ships, in Southeast and Southcentral Alaska to use fuel that meets 1-percent sulfur limits starting on Aug. 1. The new requirements tighten even more to 0.1 percent sulfur beginning in 2015. Freight carriers have said EPA’s new requirements will force them to raise their rates on goods being transported to the state.

“The new marine engine emission standards are just the latest example of how the Washington-based EPA doesn’t get Alaska,” Murkowski said. “If this rule is allowed to go into effect in two weeks, fuel costs are going to go up, which means the costs of items on store shelves across Alaska is going to increase. Alaskans – like most Americans – can’t afford to see the price of food and other necessities go up.”

Murkowski has been urging EPA since 2009 to conduct Alaska-specific air analyses before proceeding with implementation of the rule in Alaska waters out of concern that its cost to Alaskans would greatly exceed the potential health benefits.

“EPA conducted no state-specific air sampling before proposing this rule. One of the EPA’s most absurd claims is that emissions from cruise ships in Southeast Alaska could impact lichen in the mountains above Juneau, and that could then cause a drop in Southern Alaska Peninsula caribou populations,” Murkowski said. “The problem is there are no caribou in Southeast Alaska, and EPA has specifically not extended the ECA to cover western Alaska where the southern Alaska Peninsula caribou herd actually lives.”

Murkowski and her staff continue to meet with EPA officials over the low-sulfur fuel requirements and other regulations to try to find a solution without lowering the standard of living for Alaskans.

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