AlaskaACT Member Alert: Call to Action
Two years ago, we formed AlaskaACT and quickly built a membership of over 800 individuals and businesses. Together as one voice, we made changes to legislation that kept our visitor industry vibrant. Now it’s time to call upon our member partners again to come together and fight another fight – an even bigger fight that again threatens our livelihood, our families, and our companies. I think as citizens we always hope that we never are forced to rally together to fight for something. We keep thinking that calmer heads will prevail, that our elected leaders will do the right thing, or that the Government agencies that “we the people” have created will actually work for us, and not against us.
The time has come to stand up again, just as we did when we all stood up together and spoke with one strong voice about the need to lower the Cruise Ship Passenger Head Tax. We are extremely grateful to Governor Sean Parnell and to the Legislature for making this tax reduction, but it was in no small part thanks to the hard work of all of the members of AlaskaACT across the state that this was accomplished.
The danger looming like the iceberg in front of the Titanic is the “Emission Control Area” (ECA) regulation being imposed on the coastal waters of the United States by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) starting on August 1st, 2012. Read on.
Emission Control Area leads to economic hardships for Alaskans
The Environmental Protection Agency’s new “Emission Control Area” (ECA) rule will go into effect around the entire coastline of the U.S. and Canada on August 1, 2012, encompassing a 200 mile limit off shore. The new North American ECA requires low-sulfur fuel to be used by all ships; the allowable sulfur standard drops even lower in 2015.
None of the regulations are backed up by any proven or documented scientific studies, and no economic studies of the effects of the ECA on communities within the ECA have been undertaken.
All of Alaska will fall into the ECA except the far Western Aleutians, which have been specifically exempted due to international trade routes used by container ships that burn bunker fuel. The entire state of Hawaii will also fall into the 200 mile limit, yet the Great Lakes area has been exempted.
Very few Alaskans even know that this is happening. The EPA got the North American ECA approved into regulation through the International Maritime Organization, not through Congress where it would have been publicly debated. It is a questionable interpretation and application of the Clean Air Act.
The regulations will affect all ocean shipping, and they will hit both cruise ships and cargo ships. But because the much higher fuel costs will be passed on to the consumer, the real effect – economically – will be felt by the American people.
No economic studies have been done about how the ECA will impact any aspect of the American economy.
But more troubling, the ECA specifically targets one group of Americans – those of us who do not live in the contiguous United States – and it imposes unreasonable economic burdens upon us. Alaska, Hawaii, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico will all be directly and disproportionally affected, with discriminatory economic hardships put on every man, woman, and child in these non-contiguous places.
Summary of problems with EPA Emission Control Area:
- No comprehensive analysis or air quality modeling was conducted in Alaska.
- ECA boundary arbitrarily designates only a portion of Alaska: the Western Aleutians are exempted to allow for international freighter traffic across the Pacific, even though this flies in the face of the EPA’s supposed 100% “human health” mandate for the blanket imposition of the ECA along the entire Western and Eastern U.S. coastline to begin with. The EPA’s “zero tolerance” for sulfur emissions is therefore tolerable when they decide it is expedient for tolerance.
- No economic impact analysis was conducted for Alaska. Analysis used greatly underestimated the increased costs of goods as well as impact on employment.
- Availability of distillate fuels is unknown.
- Alaska is only asking for the same analysis that was conducted in other areas of the country.
- Why is the Great Lakes area exempted? Former Rep. Jim Oberstar, the powerful Congressman from Minnesota on the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee, knew that the ECA would directly affect jobs on and around the Great Lakes. Again, this points to the hypocrisy of the EPA’s supposed 100% “human health” mandate justifying the blanket imposition of the ECA along both U.S. coastlines. It follows that the EPA’s “zero tolerance” for sulfur emissions – to “protect human health” - is tolerable when they decide it is politically expedient to allow for tolerance.
The quality of analysis by the EPA has been questioned by both the State of Alaska and the State of Hawaii. They have challenged the rationale for including these states in the emission control area on the basis of arbitrary drawing of the 200 mile limit and incomplete analysis of the benefits and economic costs of ECA in those states. If the Great Lakes area was exempted for economic reasons, the same economic analysis must be done for Alaska, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and any other non-contiguous U.S. possessions. The economic health of these American communities and American citizens demands that this be done.
This is going to require the involvement of every Alaskan. A Federal Government agency – the EPA - is running amok here, and our livelihoods are being threatened. This is not about whether Alaskans want “clean air”. We all want clean air for ourselves and our children. Alaskans are the most environmentally-minded people in the nation. But if you believe in keeping The Regulators honest about their rules and how they directly affect our economy, we all have to stand up on this one.
AlaskaACT will be working with various State and Local organizations to ask for their assistance in overturning this outrageous and arbitrary decision by EPA. And we can’t do it without you: we will be asking for your help to change these regulations. In the meantime, read up on this situation yourselves. Talk with your friends and neighbors. Call your elected representatives. Ask questions. Demand answers.
Thank you for your continued support.
Posted: June 1, 2012