The state Senate has delayed until next week a vote on bill that would change how Alaska regulates cruise ship wastewater.
The announcement was made after several failed attempts to amend the bill, including one that would give ships more time to meet the water quality standards set out by a 2006 citizen initiative.
Sen. John Coghill said the delay was to be fair to members who were absent. Committee members who weren’t present included Sens. Donny Olson (D-Nome), Lyman Hoffman (D-Bethel) and Gary Stevens (R-Kodiak).
The bill would require that cruise ships discharge wastewater in a manner consistent with applicable state or federal law. It would strike the more stringent requirement that discharges meet state water quality standards at the point of discharge.
The measure also would allow mixing zones, if ships meet certain standards for treatment.
Critics say it would roll back provisions of the initiative.
Juneau Douglas High School 9th grader Madeline Handley was among those protesting the bill last week.
"A lot of people that I talk to are concerned about the bill," said Handley. "It's moving really fast, and very few people have had time to say anything about it."
Supporters want the bill passed before cruise season starts, so ships can have their Advance Wastewater Treatment Systems up to snuff.
"The existing permit expires in April," said President of the Alaska Cruise Association John Binkley.
"Ships are due here the first of May, so the department needs to get busy in getting a new permit in place, so that's the reason why the Department of Environmental Conservation wants to move this forward so quickly."
A staffer for Sen. Dennis Egan (D-Juneau) says the measure had its second reading Wednesday, with a third reading set for next Tuesday. Further amendments to the bill wouldn’t be allowed unless its status was reverted to a second reading -- a procedural move unlikely at this point.
Channel 2’s Adam Pinsker in Juneau contributed information to this story.
Contact Chris Klint