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Alaska Cruise Industry Addresses EPA Fuel Regulations

By Nancy Lockwood Channel 2 News

5:08 p.m. AKSTDecember 3, 2012

ANCHORAGE, Alaska—

The Anchorage Chamber of Commerce met Monday afternoon to discuss the economic impact of the recent EPA designation of Alaska’s coast as an Emission Control Area, or ECA.

Within the ECA, marine vessels, including freight ships, cruise ships and oil tankers are restricted to use fuel with 1 percent sulfur content as of Aug. 1. Beginning on Jan. 1, 2015, the limit will be further reduced to 0.1 percent.

Bruce Bustamante, of Holland America Cruise Line and Princess Tours, spoke to the Chamber of Commerce about the impact the new fuel retrictions would have on the cruise industry in Alaska as well as general tourism. He said that cruise passengers account for 58 percent of Alaska’s tourists and expressed concern that the increase in fuel costs would lead to an increase in ticket prices and ultimately to fewer cruise passengers.

According to Bustamante, the cruise industry in Alaska is still recovering from an initiative passed by voters in 2006, which raised ticket prices by $50 per passenger to cover state pollution monitoring of the ships.

Joe Geldhof, an attorney in Juneau who co-sponsored the 2006 initiative, told Channel 2 that in the interest of clean air the cruise industry must absorb the aditional fuel costs just as the freight industry has had to do.

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