Kira Schmidt, Bluewater Network
Friday, 28 Jul 2000
SAN FRANCISCO, Calif.
It’s Friday and we’re still fine-tuning the amendments to the monitoring bill. More back and forth negotiations on “shall” versus “will” — important stuff! I’m anxious to finalize the language, and I’m hoping that a miracle will occur and we will find some common ground on an amended bill that all parties
can live with.
It looks like I won’t have as much time as I had hoped to work on the air pollution addition to our EPA petition today. Instead I will be responding to requests for information from a number of reporters. I have been getting a lot of calls and emails from reporters from a variety of different media, which is fantastic because it shows that the cruise ship pollution issue is increasingly on the radar screen of the press and therefore the public. One of the reporters is doing an in-depth piece for a Dutch radio station about how Holland America, which cruises under the Dutch flag, has been prosecuted for illegal dumping in Alaska. I also will be furnishing information to an activist in Venezuela who contacted me with concerns about the growing presence of cruise ships there and is eager to become more informed and get a similar campaign going in his country. This is very exciting that Bluewater’s cruise ship campaign is getting some international recognition!
A reporter from a policy journal has also asked me to comment on U.S. Sen. Frank Murkowski’s (R) amendment to the Coast Guard Authorization Act, passed yesterday by the Senate, which places restrictions on certain wastewater discharges from cruise ships operating in Alaska. While a step in the right direction, the amended version that passed is considerably weaker than the version that was first proposed in May. I am trying to track down the final text of the amendment and will be analyzing it and offering some comments to the reporter later today.
I am also following up on some insider tips I have just received about more cruise ship pollution violations. I try to keep my ear to the ground about all the violations that occur, as the ever-growing docket is ammunition for me to show decision-makers, the press, and the public how important it is to act now to clamp down on cruise ship pollution. It’s incredible how difficult it is to obtain information about violations if they are not picked up by the press. Almost daily I have to write Freedom of Information Act request letters to get access to reports of violations. But I have established relationships with regulators in key states where cruise ships operate frequently, and the more these violations occur, the more regulators are becoming upset and attuned to the need for stricter regulations and monitoring. And the more willing they are to come to me with reports of violations, rather than me having to dig around and harass them. This is a very positive development. I will find out more about these violations and will be sure to highlight them in my testimony before the California Senate Environmental Quality Committee on Aug. 7 during their hearing on the monitoring bill.
Another fun thing that I will be doing later today is heading down to the office of Act Now Productions. Adam Werbach, former president of the Sierra Club, launched Act Now, an alternative media production company, which, among other excellent work, produces a monthly documentary called The Thin Green Line on cutting-edge environmental issues and the activists who tackle them. I have been working closely with them over the past several months on an upcoming episode on cruise ship pollution. It will feature me and my work on Bluewater’s cruise ship campaign, and it has been really fun working with them on the project. They are putting the finishing touches on it and need some additional information from me, so I’ll be going down to their office to provide it. I’m eager to get a peek at the work in progress, but I won’t be able to see it until it gets closer to airtime. Tune in to The Thin Green Line‘s September episode on the Outdoor Life Network if you’re interested in seeing more about the efforts underway by myself and others working tirelessly to put a stop to the pollution of our seas by cruise ships.
Thanks for reading this week. It’s been fun sharing my daily travails with you. Stay tuned at www.bluewaternetwork.org.