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State files suit challenging expensive ECA regulations

The Alaska Cruise Association applauds the state’s decision to challenge new fuel standards for Alaska vessels that impose additional economic hardship on Alaska residents and visitors without any demonstrable need to improve air quality.

The state on Friday filed suit against the Secretary of State, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Coast Guard and others to block federal agencies from extending the North American Emissions Control Area (ECA) to Alaska.

Regulations to enforce the ECA go into effect Aug. 1 and require marine cargo carriers and cruise lines operating within 200 miles of the Southeast and Southcentral Alaska coastlines to use costly and difficult-to-obtain low-sulfur fuel.

Totem Ocean Trailer Express (TOTE), one of Alaska’s largest shipping companies, estimates that moving to low sulfur fuel will result in 25 percent higher fuel costs. This translates to an increase of about 8 percent in TOTE’s total costs, “which will necessarily be passed on to the people of Alaska and Alaskan shippers in higher transportation charges,” the company said.

The suit says the ECA regulations will increase cruise passenger costs by $12 to $16 per passenger day, adding approximately $86 to $112 to the price of a typical seven-day cruise.

Alaskans from across the state have been united in their opposition to the regulations, saying they are not based on science and add needless cost.

“Most of the goods Alaskans consume and retail products sold by our businesses, as well as much of the equipment used by our resource development based industries all arrive via waterborne cargo vessels,” said Rachael Petro, President and CEO of the Alaska State Chamber of Commerce. “In effect, the ECA levies a shipping tax upon Alaskans without demonstrating any legitimate scientific justification or proving there will be any measurable environmental benefits of such extreme regulations.”

“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,” AlaskaACT said.

“Quite simply, an ECA that includes portions of Alaska appears to be a detrimental solution in search of a nonexistent problem,” Alaska Congressman Don Young wrote.

In the complaint, the state notes that the EPA has admitted it failed to perform the air quality modeling in Alaska that it performed in other areas included in the ECA, and that Alaska “enjoys air quality that is generally cleaner than our National Ambient Air Quality Standards.”

Instead, the EPA cited Fairbanks air quality issues and a lichen study in Juneau that it somehow linked to a caribou herd in Southwest Alaska.

View the state suit against the EPA
View the ECA DOL Complaint

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