Heads up! Senate Bill 180 is up for public testimony on!

Written by Aaron Brakel

April 18, 2022

Heads up! Senate Bill 180 is up for public testimony in the Alaska Senate Resources Committee at 3:30 p.m. — Wednesday, April 20 (rescheduled from April 18).

This is Governor Mike Dunleavy’s bill that would permanently eliminate Alaska’s Ocean Ranger — our cruise ship watchdogs. Dunleavy stripped out Ocean Ranger funding in the 2019 budget and left Alaska without an onboard cruise ship monitoring program. Now, the governor and our DEC Division of Water have signed on as the dirty water carriers of the cruise industry – they want to permanently protect these convicted felon dumpers from the very Alaskan watchdog oversight program that Alaskans voted for in 2006.

The Ocean Ranger Program is essential to protecting Alaska waters and they do a lot more than just monitor wastewater discharge. They need to be reinstated, not cut.

If the Legislature is serious about wanting to protect Alaska waters, SB180 should be amended to keep the Ocean Rangers and raise the per passenger fee to $20 to have adequate money for a well-funded Ocean Ranger program, with rangers on all of the ships, all of the time, and enough money to put into the fund to grant to local communities for shoreside needs. Otherwise, let this bill die.

If you’re an Alaskan, please call into the public testimony. The more people we get to testify against SB180 the better. 

You can call the Legislative Information Office at 844-586-9085 (907-586-9085 if in Juneau, or 907-563-9085 if in Anchorage) a few minutes before the hearing starts. Tell them you want to testify to Senate Resources on SB180. Stay on the phone and monitor until it’s your turn to speak. Note: Be sure to listen for your cue on your phone as there is a 10-second video delay and you can miss your turn to speak if you’re just watching online.

You will likely have two minutes to tell your story. Why is the Ocean Ranger Program important? What have you seen on the waters? Why does a funding increase make sense?

Let’s not let this just be framed on fecal coliform issues in port communities. Ocean Rangers provide critical deterrence and widespread monitoring of an industry with a bad history and well-deserved reputation for pollution. And remember, the issue doesn’t stop with Princess Cruises and Carnival Cruise Line — Norwegian Cruise Lines and Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines have both had felonies.

After public testimony, Senate Resources Chair, Sen. Josh Revak, will ask the committee members if they have questions. Mostly, they don’t. If they do, and the question feels hostile to saving the Ocean Rangers, and you think a different point is more important and you didn’t get time to squeeze it into your presentation, go ahead. 

You may also send any email testimony to Senate.Resources@akleg.gov. Your email will be circulated to all committee members and entered into the official record. It’s OK and good to do both! If you email written comments, please copy the House Community and Regional Affairs Committee at House.Community.And.Regional.Affairs@akleg.gov. They will be hearing the House companion bill, HB303, on Thursday, April 21, at 8 a.m.

If you’d like to read more about this, check out this recent piece — ”Alaska Voices: Cruise ships need Ocean Rangers on deck” — in the Peninsula Clarion.

Above all, thank you for contributing your voice.

Aaron Brakel
Inside Passage Waters Program Manager

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