Hartig defends ouster of scientist

Posted: Thursday, January 28, 2010

JUNEAU - Alaska's environmental conservation commissioner is defending a decision to kick scientist and clean water advocate Gershon Cohen off an advisory panel on cruise ship wastewater discharge.

Six Democratic lawmakers on Tuesday urged the governor to reinstate Cohen, saying he's qualified to serve on the board and that they were worried his ouster stemmed from pressure from the cruise ship industry.

On Wednesday, Commissioner Larry Hartig acknowledged hearing concerns from within the industry about whether Cohen could be unbiased. Hartig said he admires Cohen's commitment to clean water issues but that question should have been looked at before Cohen's appointment.

Cohen dismissed as bogus the concerns about his objectivity. He noted the panel wouldn't set policy but instead make recommendations on uses of technology.

The cruise industry also is represented on the panel. Hartig said he hasn't heard concerns about that person.

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