According to a recent article by Bluewater Network, an environmental hybrid branch of the Sierra Club, there are major environmental pollution campaigns being waged in New York City harbors and San Francisco Bay against ferry systems. Future environmental pollution campaigns against ferry expansions in the ports of Seattle and Miami are planned to deal with the host of environmental pollution problems that come with ferries. The issue of massive amounts of toxic diesel exhaust from dirty ferry and fast ferry engines spewing cancer-causing soot has caused these environmental groups to act.
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The facts, according to Bluewater Network's Web site, are that by 2007, ferries will produce anywhere from 100 to 1,000 times more pollution per passenger-mile than cars and buses. While cars and buses have become 97 percent cleaner in recent decades, ferries continue to foul the air with toxic exhaust from dirty diesel engines.
The article goes on to recommend that ferries should embrace the use of new technologies, such as hybrid-electric systems, biodiesel, solar energy, wind power and fuel cells as being critical solutions for making ferries a viable and clean transportation option.
The article states the ferries traveling at speeds of 30 knots or more are likely to collide with whales and other marine mammals.
In recent articles in the Juneau Empire, people are continually complaining about the environmental damage that a road out of Juneau will cause. I would challenge the Sierra Club, Friends of Berners Bay, Lynn Canal Conservation, Friends of the Ocean, Alaska Transportation Priorities Project, etc., to prove that the ferries in Alaska are not spewing toxic cancer-causing pollutants into the environment of this great state of ours.
The hypocritical environmentalist statements, which claim that a road is more damaging to the environment than the outdated ferries and the new improved fast ferries, just don't hold bilge water. In the 40 years that I have been driving automobiles in Alaska, I can honestly say that I have never run over a humpback whale, sea lion, seal or dive duck. Can the Alaska Marine Highway System say the same?
The Juneau access road project is not about road versus ferries; it's about affordable transportation in Southeast Alaska. The above article is meant to make Alaskans think about what is real and what is not.
Terry R. Miller