It’s official: after much intrastate political wrangling, Alaska’s legislators have passed America’s first law allowing a state to regulate cruise ships for pollution. Alaska, already vigilant about the environmental impact of some one million cruisers that visit via big ships each year, is now allowed to keep an eye on wastewater disposal. The new bill also will create a list of standards that all cruise ships, regardless of the flag they fly, will have to follow and gives its inspectors the right to assess penalties for those who illegally discharge in Alaskan waters. Who pays for it? Right now, the cruise lines. Another bill, that would have allowed the state to charge per-passenger fees, was defeated.
Other popular U.S. cruise regions and/or states, ranging from southern California to Hawaii, are eyeing Alaska’s success and may attempt to create similarly restrictive environmental policies.