Sunday, September 20, 2009

Cruise Lines: "Graded" or Attacked?

When organizations want to prove a point, it seems they will go to almost any length to reach their desired conclusion. So it was no surprise that when the environmental organization Friends of the Earth recently issued their first-ever "Cruise Ship Environmental Report Card, an assessment of the environmental and human health footprint of cruise lines and ships operating in the United States," the cruise industry didn't fare very well. FOE's admitted mission in issuing the "report card" was to prove that "taking a cruise is more harmful to the environment and human health than many other forms of travel."

According to their release, "Friends of the Earth’s report card ranks 10 major lines—Carnival Cruise Lines, Celebrity Cruises, Cunard Cruise Line, Disney Cruise Line, Holland America Line, Norwegian Cruise Lines, Princess Cruises, Regent Seven Seas Cruises, Royal Caribbean Int’l, and Silversea Cruises—according to three environmental criteria: sewage treatment technology, air pollution reduction, and water quality compliance in Alaskan waters. Holland America, Norwegian and Princess come out on top, and Carnival, Royal Caribbean and Disney are rated the worst."

Something smelled fishy to me. For instance, why flunk Disney Cruise Lines when they haven't even entered the Alaska market yet? Within days the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), released the following statement in response to the “report” by the campaign group, Friends of the Earth:
The so-called ‘Report Card' released by Friends of the Earth is not based on science, law or the facts, but rather FOE's own arbitrary and flawed criteria. It reveals more about FOE's own agenda than it does the environmental practices of CLIA member cruise lines. Above all, the grades in the report card clearly ignore the fact that our cruise lines comply with and in most cases exceed all applicable environmental regulations set by the Federal government and other regulatory bodies around the world. Fortunately, Friends of the Earth has no authority in the matter. Regulatory compliance is not based on meeting Friends of the Earth's biased, unscientific interpretation of what the rules should be.

For instance, while some ships in the CLIA fleet are fitted to plug-in to shore power, this technology is only available at five berths in North America. Therefore to fail a ship for not using port-side technology that is not even available is emblematic of FOE's tactics and further discredits this so-called report card.

While many vessels in CLIA's oceangoing fleet are equipped with Advanced Wastewater Purification Systems (AWPS, which produces and effluent cleaner than most municipalities), those ships that do not have this new technology use federally required sewage treatment systems in accordance with industry practices and procedures. The wastewater effluent meets national clean water standards.

FOE's attack purposely omits many key facts that discredit its report. Any blackwater discharged in U.S. waters by CLIA's oceangoing fleet is treated by an AWPS. While international law states ships may discharge untreated blackwater at 12 nautical miles from shore while traveling at speed, beyond U.S. waters, and anywhere else our ships sail, in accordance with CLIA's Waste Management Practices and Procedures, member cruise lines treat all blackwater through a Type II Marine Sanitation Device (approved by the U.S. Coast Guard for all vessels in U.S. ports) or an AWPS.

The water pollution standards Friends of the Earth used to grade “Water Quality Compliance” are not standards at all. They are future wastewater targets in Alaska not yet in effect. In fact, these targets have been postponed until 2015.

With respect to Alaska, a December 2008 EPA report commended the industry for its solid waste management practices, which surpass the practices of most municipalities in the United States.

Air emissions are regulated at the international, federal, and state levels. CLIA ships in operation are issued an International Air Pollution Prevention Certificate attesting to the fact that they meet the standards. The cruise industry's emissions of carbon dioxide and other air emissions, on a per passenger basis, have been significantly and continue to be reduced in recent years. This has been the result of more fuel efficient ships coming into service and new technologies and energy management programs
that reduce emissions.
CLIA concludes that, “It is regrettable that Friends of the Earth authors such misinformation when in fact this industry has made tremendous progress in the past several years in advancing technology and developing programs that go a long way in protecting the environment.”

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Check out the salaries of the key officers of Friends of the Earth and you'll see why they will do anything to stay in business.