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Friday, January 28, 2022

Parnell Dumps Citizens’ Initiative Overboard

Alaska cruise ship

This just in from the Alaska Democratic Party. Republicans overthrowing the will of the people to serve their own self-interest and that of their corporate donors? I’m shocked. Shocked, I say.

Today House Republicans passed Gov. Parnell’s bill to allow discharge of sewage and untreated wastewater in Alaska waters, repealing a provision of the 2006 citizen initiative that protected Alaskans’ health and state fisheries. Parnell’s bill would allow the release approximately 1,064,448,000 gallons of sewage and wastewater into Alaska state waters every year.

Republicans rejected Democratic amendments which would have required disclosure of the location of sewage discharges and protected fisheries from sewage discharges.

“We want Outside tourists’ money, not their sewage. Alaskans voted in 2006 to protect our waters and the salmon fisheries that depend on them. It is outrageous that Republicans would repeal that citizen initiative on behalf of a few Outside interests,” said Mike Wenstrup, Chair of the Democratic Party.

In 2006, Alaskans voted to enact legislation that said cruise ships “may not discharge untreated sewage, treated sewage, graywater or other wastewaters in a manner that violates any applicable effluent limits or standards under state or federal law, including Alaska Water Quality Standards governing pollution at the point of discharge.” On the House floor today, Rep. Les Gara said, “The voters were right in passing a bill which protects the world’s greatest fishery.” Parnell’s bill would repeal the last clause of this law so that dumping of sewage and wastewater in Alaska state waters would be considered adequate “treatment.”

Southeast Alaska fisherman Joseph Sebastian said, “This bill … is a slap in the face to thousands of Alaska’s fishing families.” A single cruise ship produces 210,000 gallons of sewage, over a million gallons of greywater, 130 gallons of hazardous wastes such as poisonous metals, and 25,000 gallons of oily bilge water in a single week-long cruise. There are 28 very large cruise ships which operate up to 150 days annually in Alaska. Such large quantities of pollution are a threat to Alaska’s critical fisheries, which is why the Central Council of Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes urged the House to reject Parnell’s bill. On the House floor, Representative Jonathan Kreiss-Thompkins noted that the fishing industry’s “concerns are not being heard” as the Republicans fast track this bill.

“The cruise industry was moving toward cleaner operations as a result of the 2006 citizens’ initiative, but this bill would undermine that progress,” said Michelle Ridgeway, a marine ecologist who was on the Governor’s Cruiseship Wastewater Science Advisory Panel. On the House floor, Representative Gara noted that Michelle Ridgeway was the only marine scientist on the panel.

Parnell’s attempted repeal of sewage treatment standards is part of a broader suite of policies which sacrifices the health of Alaska fisheries on behalf Outside interests. Parnell has introduced legislation to expedite wetlands permitting to assist the Pebble Partnership, and Lieutenant Governor Mead Treadwell has stated that the administration “invited” Pebble and would not deny their permits. Parnell and Treadwell’s support for Pebble contrasts with an initiative that Lake and Peninsula borough residents—who live where the mine would be located—voted to reject the Pebble mine in a citizen initiative.

Welcome to the War on Fish, folks.

Just days ago, Princess Cruises was fined $20,000 for dumping wastewater into Alaska’s pristine Glacier Bay in 2011. Back then we cared, I guess.

The Senate version of the bill, SB 29, will likely be heard by the Alaska Senate Finance Committee on Friday, February 8th. It may move to the Senate Floor by next Monday.  Senate Finance is hearing SB 29 on Wednesday at 9am and taking testimony on Thursday at 9am. Submit your written testimony to:,,,,,, The faster, the better, for our new GOP dominated legislature.

Contact your Senator, and the governor at and tell them that you are paying attention, and that you don’t like what you’re seeing.

Do some more reading here:

Tlingit, Haida tribes oppose cruise ship bill. San Francisco Chronicle (2/2/2013)

EPA fines Princess Cruise Lines for 2011 Clean Water Act violation in Glacier Bay KTOO, Juneau (Referenced EPA Report) (1/29/2013)

Public, scientists disagree on cruise ship wastewater KCAW Radio, Stika (1/28/2013)

Cruise ship wastewater standards testimony heard (1/28/2013)




24 Responses to “Parnell Dumps Citizens’ Initiative Overboard”
  1. Carmen Norwood says:

    Because of BP, I no longer eat anything from the Gulf of Mexico.
    So is there a petition somewhere? How does someone who, up until now, thought that seafood bought from that area was safe, weigh in on this? Because I will no longer be buying it.

  2. John says:

    Are the ships allowed to dump in Puget sound and Canadian waters? Or do they just “hold it” until they get further north, and enter Alaskan waters?

  3. You have a choice says:

    And what if Alaskans parked their boats at the points of entry for these ships and refused to allow them in?

  4. EatWildFish says:

    Here’s how the votes went on Monday for the cruise ships —

    HB 80
    Final Passage


    Yeas: Austerman, Chenault, Costello, Edgmon, Feige, Foster, Gattis,
    Herron, Higgins, Holmes, Hughes, Isaacson, Johnson, Keller, LeDoux,
    Lynn, Millett, Munoz, Nageak, Neuman, Pruitt, Reinbold, Saddler,
    Stoltze, Thompson, P.Wilson, T.Wilson

    Nays: Drummond, Gara, Gruenberg, Guttenberg, Josephson,
    Kawasaki, Kreiss-Tomkins, Seaton, Tuck

    Excused: Hawker, Kerttula, Olson, Tarr

    And so, HB 80 passed the House.

    • Pinwheel says:

      There is one of those meaningful votes by this legislatures newest republican member. Curious to hear what District 19(?) constituents might think of this vote. n

  5. Zyxomma says:


  6. juneaudream says: per town..find a clean, decent, educated citizen….and truck on down to a place in each town..easily recognized. Have said citizen..squat..and when picture is taken..of..said citizen and a plastic doggie poo (avail in all joke stores m’freinds)..publish these photos..and the material just mentioned. So some..would ban ..’sitting’..on the—-g’ in the waters…..? Make that gov a laughingstock..all around the world.

  7. Chena ward says:

    Thank Lindsey Holmes… She’s so full of shit, she just had to pass it on!

    • COalmostNative says:

      Perhaps she got lifetime free cruise passes from the grateful cruise line companies.

      BTW: anyone else experience the jarring, flashing action (goes big, goes small, flips to Facebook then back) of Mudflats until it completely connects? On my iPad it looks like graphics on steroids…

  8. All I Saw says:

    All very coordinated wouldn’t you say?

    I can’t wait to see their next move. And before it’s all over lay down bets on who gets audited or indicted first.

    Judge thy legislator by the company they keep. If their friends are creeps, replace ’em. Especially if you like them.

  9. shelley gill says:

    Really?? are we just going to sit by and watch these morons dismantle and destroy the last best place? The place we were born or claimed as a place of our heart…not because of oil or gold or greed. Really Alaska? Take five minutes out of your busy life to change the future these scammers have planned. Start with Rep Edgmon D, Rep Munoz-R, Rep P Wilson-R,and Rep LeDoux-R. They should be ashamed.

  10. tallimat says:

    Here is a way to think about this:

    What would you do is ~10 cruise ships traveled thru your area in the spring and
    Each cruise ship had ~3,000 toilets?

    Parnell is a ass. I can’t wait to rip him a new one the next time I see him.

  11. slipstream says:

    Isn’t this the governor who said he would never trade one resource for another?

    I guess Parnell’s “I will never” means “that’s exactly what I will do.”

  12. Alaska Cod Piece says:

    It was disappointing to see that Kodiak Representative Alan Austerman voted for the cruise ship crap dump. WTF??? Let’s give these people an earful, Alaska !!!

  13. Moose Pucky says:

    Let’s see, and Lindsey Holmes voted how??

  14. AKMagpie says:

    Let’s see, $2 billion break in exchange for nothing from the oil companies, less money for education (thanks for helping destroy Anchorage School District, Dan Sullivan and friends) favors imposition of forced childbearing regardless of consequences to mother and child, less money to help care for mother and children and families, favors letting Pebble Mine try not to destroy salmon habitat (unlikely to succeed and likely to eliminate a vast area suitable for wild salmon reproduction) and NOW he wants to let our fishing waters become a honey bucket dumping ground? What could possibly go wrong?

    • KatzKids says:

      And yet AK idiots/traitors continue to vote them in. The better question must be – What could go right? As long as they are in power – not a damn thing.

  15. Alaska Pi says:

    Shame on you Alaska House of Representatives!
    Shame on you!
    Special shame on Rep Edgmon D, Rep Munoz-R, Rep P Wilson-R,and Rep LeDoux-R!
    Of all of you, you should know better than any how important the issues of clean water for our fish are.
    How can you look the fishermen of Alaska in the face?
    For me, there is no real use in contacting the Governor- this is HIS legislation, transmitted to the House via the Rules Committee. I will register my disagreement but do not think it will do doodly squat.
    Shame on the bush caucus as a whole. I have battled for bush issues for years and understand the decision to caucus with the Rs but I do not understand the lockstep horsepunky vote here with the majority.
    This is going to be a long and disappointing 90 days.
    Shame on you Rep Holmes-R! these 1 million visitors stop in my town in Southeast waters every year. I thought you were going to keep all of Alaska in mind. Pfft!

    Buncha a frickin razza frazzit %^#%&*^&$@!!!

  16. mike from iowa says:

    Maybe the Chief of the Tlingits can hold a potlatch and give Parnell and Treadwell to the wolves for lunch. What a conglomeration of sell-outs.

  17. Horrifying and disgusting…!!

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