SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska

House Republicans Repeal Citizen Initiative

GOP bill would discharge cruiseship sewage in Alaska waters


February 04, 2013
Monday PM

(SitNews) Juneau, Alaska - Today House Republicans passed Gov. Parnell’s bill to allow discharge of sewage and untreated wastewater in Alaska waters, repealing a provision of the 2006 citizen initiative that protected Alaskans’ health and state fisheries. Alaska Democrats aren't pleased and say Parnell’s bill would allow the release of approximately 1,064,448,000 gallons of sewage and wastewater into Alaska state waters every year.

House Republicans rejected Democratic amendments which would have required disclosure of the location of sewage discharges and protected Alaska fisheries from sewage discharges.

Amendment YEAS: 11 NAYS: 24

Yeas: Drummond, Foster, Gara, Gruenberg, Hughes, Josephson, Kawasaki, Kreiss-Tomkins, Seaton, Stoltze, Tuck

Nays: Austerman, Chenault, Costello, Edgmon, Feige, Gattis, Herron, Higgins, Holmes, Isaacson, Johnson, Keller, LeDoux, Lynn, Millett, Munoz, Nageak, Neuman, Pruitt, Reinbold, Saddler, Thompson, P.Wilson, T.Wilson

“We want Outside tourists’ money, not their sewage.  Alaskans voted in 2006 to protect our waters and the salmon fisheries that depend on them.  It is outrageous that Republicans would repeal that citizen initiative on behalf of a few Outside interests,” said Mike Wenstrup, Chair of the Democratic Party.

In 2006, Alaskans voted to enact legislation that said cruise ships “may not discharge untreated sewage, treated sewage, graywater or other wastewaters in a manner that violates any applicable effluent limits or standards under state or federal law, including Alaska Water Quality Standards governing pollution at the point of discharge.”  On the House floor today, Rep. Les Gara (D) said, “The voters were right in passing a bill which protects the world’s greatest fishery.”  Parnell’s bill would repeal the last clause of this law so that dumping of sewage and wastewater in Alaska state waters would be considered adequate “treatment.” 

Southeast Alaska fisherman Joseph Sebastian said, “This bill … is a slap in the face of thousands of Alaska’s fishing families.”  A single cruise ship produces 210,000 gallons of sewage, over a million gallons of greywater, 130 gallons of hazardous wastes such as poisonous metals, and 25,000 gallons of oily bilge water in a single week-long cruise. There are 28 very large cruise ships which operate up to 150 days annually in Alaska.  Such large quantities of pollution are a threat to Alaska’s critical fisheries, which is why the Central Council of Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes urged the House to reject Parnell’s bill. On the House floor, Representative Kreiss-Thompkins noted that the fishing industry’s “concerns are not being heard” as the Republicans fast track this bill.

“The cruise industry was moving toward cleaner operations as a result of the 2006 citizens’ initiative, but this bill would undermine that progress,” said Michelle Ridgeway, a marine ecologist who was on the Governor’s Cruiseship Wastewater Science Advisory Panel.  On the House floor, Representative Gara noted that Michelle Ridgeway was the only marine scientist on the panel.

The Alaska Democrats say that Gov. Parnell’s attempted repeal of sewage treatment standards is part of a broader suite of policies which sacrifices the health of Alaska fisheries on behalf Outside interests. 

Parnell has also introduced legislation to expedite wetlands permitting to assist the Pebble Partnership, and Lieutenant Governor Mead Treadwell has stated that the administration “invited” Pebble and would not deny their permits.  Parnell and Treadwell’s support for Pebble contrasts with an initiative that Lake and Peninsula borough residents - who live where the mine would be located - voted to reject the Pebble mine in a citizen initiative.

HB 80 passed the House with a vote of 27 yeahs to 9 nays.

Yeas: Austerman, Chenault, Costello, Edgmon, Feige, Foster, Gattis, Herron, Higgins, Holmes, Hughes, Isaacson, Johnson, Keller, LeDoux, Lynn, Millett, Munoz, Nageak, Neuman, Pruitt, Reinbold, Saddler, Stoltze, Thompson, P.Wilson, T.Wilson

Nays: Drummond, Gara, Gruenberg, Guttenberg, Josephson, Kawasaki, Kreiss-Tomkins, Seaton, Tuck


Edited by Mary Kauffman, SitNews


Related Info:

HB 80

Full text of citizen initiative

All data available at

Congressional Research Service cited


Source of News: 

Alaska Democratic Party

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Stories In The News
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