Alaska Sues Over Unconstitutional North American ECA

by Ship & Bunker News Team
Monday July 16, 2012

The State of Alaska filed a lawsuit on Friday seeking relief from the enforcement of the North American Emissions Control Area (ECA) in Alaskan water, which is due to come into effect on August 1, 2012.

The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court in Anchorage, said the extension of the ECA to Alaska was unlawful because two-thirds of the U.S. Senate had not consented to the extension as required by the U.S. Constitution.

As such, Alaska requested that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's acceptance of the ECA extending to Alaska be set aside and the enforcement of the ECA in the waters off the coast of Alaska be permanently prevented.

The defendants named in the action included Hillary Clinton, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the United States Coast Guard, and the Department of Homeland Security.

A Tax on All Alaskans

The lawsuit also detailed how, as the low-sulfur fuel required by vessels when operating in the ECA costs more than the fuel currently used, it will greatly increase operating costs for vessels that supply Alaska's residents with basic necessities, and for cruise ships that facilitate Alaska's tourism industry.

For Alaska's cargo industry, it said 85-90% of all commodities entering Alaska, which included groceries, fuel, and essential supplies to the U.S. military, came through the Port of Anchorage and the shipping costs for those goods was estimated to increase by 8%.

For the cruise ship industry, the ECA would mean 585,000 fewer visitors to Alaska, resulting in $150 million less income for Alaska workers and $180 million less in direct spending by Alaska tourists.

"Enforcement of the ECA in Alaska will irreparably injure the State and Alaska's citizens and economy," the lawsuit said, adding that the ECA was, in effect, "operating as a tax on all Alaskans."

"There are reasonable and equally effective alternatives for the Secretary and the EPA to consider which would still protect the environment but dramatically reduce the severe impact these regulations will have on Alaskan jobs and families," Alaska Attorney General Michael Geraghty said in a statement.

The Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) has proposed an emissions-averaging scheme instead of the current plans which simply say fuels with no more than 1% sulfur must be used within 200 nautical miles of the coast line.

Ship & Bunker reported last month that opponents to the ECA had received a boost from legislators who criticised the EPA saying it was guilty of "costly and questionable regulations."

The EPA estimates the overall cost of the ECA at $3.2 billion in 2020 and in that same year it estimates the monetized health-related benefits in the U.S. to be up to $110 billion.