The cruise industry, not satisfied with corrupting Alaska's air and waters, is now polluting our public policy. Unhappy with the results of a two-year process to resolve water discharge problems, the industry fixed a deal with Rep. Mulder. Without hearing the governor's or Rep. Kerttula's bills, which had extensive public review, the majority is fast tracking HB 260, which gives away Alaskans' right to set our own standards or independently monitor water quality.
Why is the cruise industry so shortsighted? They rely heavily on public resources, including not only Alaska's scenery and abundant wildlife, but our community infrastructure and goodwill. They should be working to reassure us that they're protecting the quality of both our natural environment and our democracy. Instead, along with growing problems of noise, congestion, unfair business practices and water pollution, we see the growing power of cruise corporations to shape public policy.
It's time to stop negotiating with this shortsighted, arrogant industry. Go back to the drawing board. Pass a state tourism head tax. Prohibit campaign contributions by corporations. Give communities more tools and funds to deal with tourism impacts. Pass strong laws to protect our air and waters. But most of all, we need to demand that our elected officials listen to us, instead of big Outside corporations.
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