The U.S. Justice Department has joined Alaska Gov. Tony Knowles (D) and environmentalists in criticizing proposed cruise ship legislation sponsored by Sen. Frank Murkowski (R-Alaska), saying it would legalize the dumping at sea of toxic chemicals like the dry-cleaning solvent PERC. Department officials said the new legislation would make prosecutions difficult or impossible by contradicting older laws with more stringent language restricting dumping. The cruise ship measure is part of a larger Coast Guard bill that has already passed the Senate and House in slightly different forms and is expected to be the focus of a Senate-House conference committee soon. Meanwhile, following Alaska’s lead, California Gov. Gray Davis (D) has signed legislation setting up a task force to study whether cruise ships are adequately complying with environmental laws.

Grist thanks its sponsors. Become one.