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AlaskaACT applauds Governor Parnell’s effort to challenge the EPA’s higher cost fuel requirements

On August 1, 2012, the Environmental Protection Agency will begin enforcing a new requirement that large vessels – such as TOTE, Horizon and all cruise ships – use more expensive fuel while operating in an Emission Control Area (ECA), which is defined as all waters within 200 miles of shore.  This new requirement will affect each and every Alaskan as it increases the cost of goods delivered to Alaska by at least eight percent.  In 2015, even more expensive fuel will be required and will result in an increase of at least 16 – 20%.

“Over the last several years, many Alaska businesses have been working with the Governor on efforts to grow the visitor industry,” said Bob Berto, President of the Alaska Alliance for Cruise Travel (AlaskaACT).  Following an increase in operational costs due to the passenger head tax, Alaska saw a 14% decline in passengers.  According to a 2010 study conducted by the McDowell Group, over 5,000 Alaska jobs were lost as a result of the cruise passenger decline.  “With the support of Governor Parnell’s sponsorship of legislation that lowered these head taxes, we have turned things around and we expect to see an increase in passengers for the first time in four years.  Many businesses are excited about hiring some of their employees back” Berto added.  “The ECA not only threatens to undo all the progress we have made, it could potentially bring economic hardship to our businesses and communities that is twice as bad as what we saw in 2010,” Berto said.

“What I find most amazing is that the EPA recognized it does not have the scientific justification to include Alaska and they still refused to consider options to implement the ECA in a more reasonable manner,” Berto said.  The visitor industry requested the EPA adopt an environmental equivalency model that would require better fuel near populated areas, and lessen the impact in the many miles of remote areas of Alaska.  “It is unfortunate that it has taken litigation to get the EPA to consider reasonable proposals,” Berto said.

“We appreciate the Parnell Administration’s action today to challenge the EPA and continue to fight on behalf of the many businesses in the visitor industry,” Berto said.

To view the State of Alaska’s press release, or to view the complaint filed again the federal government, visit:

http://alaskaact.com/pr.html

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