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Alaskans' Right to Protection from Cruise Ships

Visitors, Yes -- Sewage, No

Nearly a million people visit Southeast Alaska on giant cruise ships each year, and the wastewater the ships discharge is becoming a problem. Voters were asked to approve an initiative that would install new discharge-permit requirements, plus add a per-head tax and a tax on onboard gambling in state waters.

Not So Fast

The cruise-ship industry sued to block the initiative, claiming that the signatures had been improperly gathered. Earthjustice, on behalf of six Alaskan organizations, supported the right of the public to vote on the initiative via a friend-of-the-court brief with the state Supreme Court.

Victory at Sea

The Supreme Court upheld the validity of the initiative and, in August 2006, the citizens of Alaska approved the measure on a vote of 66,000 to 59,000. Democracy and the environment: both well served.