The Alaska Cruise Association (ACA) has asked the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) to dismiss an administrative appeal of the new cruise ship wastewater discharge permit filed by a Haines environmental activist.

"This appeal is really an attempt to derail a multi-year evaluative process that the Alaska Legislature put in place in April 2009 when it passed House Bill 134," ACA wrote in its response.

Gershon Cohen has challenged DEC’s decision to establish effluent limits based on the type of wastewater treatment system used instead of the "best available technology called for in state law."

But DEC says HB 134 changed the requirements.

The legislation allows ADEC to issue a general permit to cruise ships that contains effluent limits or standards that are less stringent if the department finds that a ship is using "economically feasible methods of pollution prevention, control and treatment that the department considers to be the most technologically effective in controlling all wastewater and other substances at the point of discharge." The legislation also established a multi-year Science Advisory Panel to study wastewater treatment systems and "determine over the next three years the most economically feasible and technologically effective wastewater treatment options available."

In its response, the ACA wrote: "While Appellants claim that their dispute is with DEC, their real issues lie with the statutory language that the Legislature adopted with the 2009 law. Appellants would prefer that the words ‘economic feasibility’ not appear in AS 46.03.462 and that the multi-year Science Advisory Panel process not be a required component of the legislation. However, if Appellants want to change the 2009 law and the multi-year evaluative process that it requires, Appellants needs to prevail upon the Legislature, not attempt to indirectly derail that process by appealing a permitting decision that the Legislature mandated."

Cohen said he expects DEC to reject his appeal and will file a lawsuit in Superior Court.

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