e-report
Archived Reports

WASTEWATER

MAY 2013

We are currently working to finalize and begin the initial phase of implementing our outreach plan intended to provide greater understanding of both economic and environmental issues within our industry. The plan includes ship tours, speaking to various groups, and promoting positive stories in the media. Our efforts are in coordination with the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation’s (ADEC) outreach to maximize the credibility and reach of the message.

The focus of the initial phase is to have ADEC explain why the Governor introduced House Bill 80 and what the final bill did and did not do. ADEC has given presentations to the Juneau and Sitka Chambers of Commerce and is currently working on other opportunities. We are assisting with and encouraging other venues.

So far, the media coverage has been mostly positive. The primary coverage in the Juneau Empire and the Sitka Sentinel has been right on message. We are currently working with ADEC on a statewide television newscast opportunity which will reach a much larger audience.

We are also finalizing our first draft of the ship tour schedule. In Southcentral, tours will likely occur twice a month in Whittier. In Juneau, we are planning a number of tours to reach various groups, including Tligit Haida Central Council which recently became active on wastewater and harbor seal issues. We are also working on ship tours and local meetings in other southeast port communities.

 

APRIL 2013

The Governor introduced HB 80 on January 18, 2013 to modify the cruise ship discharge permit statutes and authorize the State Department of Environmental Conservation (ADEC) to issue 5-year permits with mixing zones. The bill amended the 2006 ballot initiative language as well as the 2009 law to achieve this goal.

HB 80 was assigned three committees in the Legislature; one in the House and two in the Senate. We felt three committees would provide adequate legislative review and opportunity for public comment while positioning the bill for relatively quick legislative action and passage. We kept our team small and our overall strategy included working with each legislator on an individual basis to educate them on the science and need for the statutory change. We utilized our political relationships to move the bill quickly before other issues bogged down the Legislature and before the opposition could mount a significant effort to oppose the bill.

There were numerous efforts to amend the bill. In the House committee and during the vote of the full House, there were efforts to repeal the bill and continue state studies on emerging technology. Similar amendments were offered in the Senate. We were able to work with the majority of the legislators to defeat all the amendments.

We actively worked the media, spending much time educating reporters off the record. We also called reporters on any inaccurate facts and had supporters blog and write in support of the bill. Some media was so biased, no amount of effort would have made a difference, but the extra time spent with three key reporters helped reduce the rhetoric. For the others, our effort to move quickly paid off. Although we expected significant bias on the part of several reporters, and the initiative sponsors to arm supporters with outrageous claims, we were able to get the bill through before they could mount significant opposition.

The final vote in the House of Representatives was 27 yeas and 10 nays on February 6, 2013. The final vote in the Senate was 15 yeas and 5 nays on February 19, 2013. The bill received bipartisan support in both the House and the Senate.

The Process

Many reporters and pundits have commented on how unprecedented it was for the bill to move so quickly through the Legislature. Although from the time of the bill’s first hearing to final passage was only 26 days, the effort preparing for the bill was significant and years in the making.

Following the 2009 law which created the science panel, we have been implementing our plan to work towards passage of this legislation. We selected an incredible science panel member to represent our industry; Lincoln Loehr with Stoel Rives. Lincoln worked tirelessly with the other panel members to educate them on the lack of any environmental problem given the quality of current treatment and the significant dilution following discharge. We were able to work with Lincoln on numerous changes to the report and panel findings. Jon Turvey with Holland America was also extremely helpful in providing us and Lincoln technical information to support our position.

CLIA-Alaska also worked hard to establish relationships with individual panel members and put a significant effort into working with ADEC to include provisions in the report which would help set the stage for the statutory change. It is interesting to note, when the panel first began, ADEC would not allow us to discuss the lack of environmental need for the 2006 ballot initiative. It took over a year of working with ADEC to change their focus to a “find a way to meet the initiative standards at any cost” to looking at whether there was any scientific basis for the “end of pipe” requirements. At our urging, it took involvement of the Commissioner and the Governor’s office.

We appreciate all the work of the member lines. We recognize the ADEC and Science Panel surveys required a lot of work but were an important part of the process. We also appreciate the time of the ship staff and environmental officers who provided numerous ship tours to Science Panel members.

In addition to the technical efforts, we carefully planned and executed a political effort designed to help industry supporters running for office in the 2012 election. We sponsored over two dozen political fund raisers and contributed significantly to help supporters win their elections. The Alaska team committed significant personal contributions totaling over $45,000. The effort was successful, as many of our friends returned to leadership positions in the House and the new Senate organization placed strong industry supporters in key leadership positions.

The Governor signed HB 80 on February 28, 2013, which took effect immediately.

One provision in the bill allowed ADEC to administratively extend the previous permit in order to provide ADEC additional time to develop a new permit. ADEC has utilized this provision and issued an extension to the 2010 permit until December 2015. All discharge requirements for the 2013 season will remain the same as the previous three seasons.

We are meeting with ADEC Commissioner Larry Hartig on Friday April 26th to express concern regarding their extension of the old permit until 2015. We will communicate our desire for ADEC to issue a new 5-year permit as soon as possible to be in effect for the 2014 season. We will provide an update of the meeting at next week’s board meeting.

Outreach Plan

As we expected, there was significant misinformation in the media, blogs, emails, etc. during the Legislative deliberations on House Bill 80 (wastewater permits). In our best efforts to counteract the propaganda, we put out accurate information, proactively worked the media to address questions in advance, and followed up with those who printed false statements. Our efforts to move the bill quickly and reach out to all sides to educate them on the issue made a significant difference.

There were certain legislators and a member of the public that knowingly propagated false information. One legislator’s speech claimed there was a “toxic trail of sludge as the ships traveled throughout Alaska’s pristine waters.” Others sent newsletters to their constituents with photos of salmon with viruses, claiming the occurrences increase with the presence of cruise ships.

We did not let the absurdity become a distraction to our mission of getting the bill passed. However, by the end of the legislative session, it was clear that we needed to work over the summer, fall, and into the next election cycle (2014) to improve the image of the industry. We were approached by the Administration, as well as several legislators, that requested we assist in educating the public of why the wastewater bill was necessary and how it will benefit Alaska. There are a number of our supporters for whom this may be an election issue in the next campaign.

We have developed an outreach plan intended to provide greater understanding of both economic and environmental issues within our industry. Our efforts will continue to be statewide; however, we will place some focus on key House and Senate districts where we believe that additional attention is needed. Our top three key messages are:

  • Protecting the environment is a critical component of our operations, highlighting the many investments in technology and environmental programs which reduce our impact. We will include House Bill 80 under this topic to discuss the effectiveness of our WW treatment as compared to municipalities, and why legislation was needed.
  • The Cruise Industry provides economic benefits for all regions of the state, highlighting the number of jobs, amount of visitor spending, businesses supported, and tax revenues to support state and local services.
  • We continue to face scientifically baseless requirements, such as the ECA, and what those challenges mean to our industry.

Over the next year our primary focus to communicate our message will be through three primary venues; they include:

Ship Tours

  • In light of the misinformation regarding HB 80, the most effective educational tool we have is to show our elected and community leaders the technology first-hand
  • Our goal this summer is to visit each SE Alaska port community, as well as Whittier and Seward, to help reach Southcentral and Interior audiences
  • We will again invite each local city council member, local House and Senate representatives and other key leaders in each community

Community Presentations

  • We can reach larger audiences by attending and presenting at community meetings such as local chambers of commerce and rotaries
  • We will reach out to new groups in select legislative districts, such as community councils
  • Where possible, we will address large groups at conventions such as ATIA, Resource Development Council and the State Chamber of Commerce

Media

  • Over the next year, we will take advantage of earned media opportunities to reach large audiences
  • We will continue to utilize our email lists to send out newsletters
  • We will reach out to other statewide organizations to submit and send educational articles
  • We will work with community leaders to submit opinion articles to local media

 

cliaalaska.org | (907) 743-4529 - phone | (907) 743-4553 - fax