City Council’s Double Standard Pointed out in Jack Bass’ Commentary in Sunday’s Post & Courier

On-street smoking ban not consistent

As the son of a chain-smoking father, I’ve smoked two cigarettes in my life. The first, when I was 12, tasted bad. The other came much later, when driving with my three young children (now all parents of teenagers) and their mother from a weekend visit with friends at their Lake Marion cottage. We headed home to Columbia on paved back roads on a late summer, Sunday afternoon.

As we approached a rural railroad crossing, a small moving train suddenly appeared in the twilight, seconds away from what appeared a collision course. I slammed on brakes, swerved onto the right of way, and came to a bumpy halt, perhaps 15 feet from the track. Only then did I realize it was a twilight optical illusion. The train, as it turned out, was actually backing away in the opposite direction.

But shaken and stimulated by a flow of adrenaline, I reached out for my then wife’s lighted cigarette. I deeply inhaled and experienced an enveloping release of tension. I promised myself that if ever again in such a situation, I would light up another cigarette. So far I haven’t.

The story is relevant because of Charleston City Council’s recent action to ban on-street smoking in a roughly 10-block area extending beyond the boundaries of the Roper/St. Francis and MUSC hospitals. This is the same City Council that refuses to require on-shore power for downtown cruise ships, whose toxic pollutants pose a genuine threat to public health in a far larger business and residential area. At least that’s what a past president of the state medical association has told us.

Consider for a moment that, say, a construction worker just processed admittance of his wife, his children’s mother, into the emergency room with severe chest pains. He feels the train is heading right at him. But if he goes out on the street to seek calming relaxation by smoking cigarette, he becomes a criminal and has to pay a fine.

Shame on the Charleston City Council for its surrender to power. Shame on Carnival Cruise Lines, which from their nine cruise lines sends Charleston the oldest and ugliest goat in the barn. Shame on the board of directors of the State Ports Authority for dereliction of duty.

Jack Bass

Queen Street



We’re Ready for Action!

Let Cruise Hearing Begin

Those who want reasonable limits to Charleston’s cruise industry should be allowed to present their case in court, according to a “referee” appointed to analyze their complaints and make recommendations to the S.C. Supreme Court.

That is good news. The contentious cruise issue has pitted the State Ports Authority and Mayor Joe Riley against citizens, preservation and conservation groups, and neighborhood associations. It needs a thorough airing. The divide between the two sides isn’t shrinking.

Carnival’s cruise ship Fantasy is home-based in Charleston. The mayor says that is a financial plus for Charleston and says the SPA’s pledge not to grow the business without first going to the public is good enough for him.

Citizens and groups involved in the lawsuit say they haven’t seen the financial advantage. They want enforceable, reasonable limits to the size and number of cruise ships that visit Charleston, and the frequency of their calls. The SPA hasn’t agreed to such limits, and the city hasn’t pushed for them.

Circuit Judge Clifton Newman indicated that the court should hear charges that noise, congestion, traffic and soot from cruise ships are a nuisance to the peninsula.

If the Supreme Court heeds his advice, the case will be heard in a lower court.

But, not surprisingly, Judge Newman also recommended the Supreme Court dismiss charges regarding Carnival’s environmental impact, saying the cruise line meets federal guidelines.

Further, he thinks the court should reject the notion that cruise ships should be governed by the city zoning ordinances.

The S.C. Supreme Court is not compelled to follow any of Judge Newman’s advice. But doing so could be an important step reaching an accord on the contentious issue. Clearly, the rifts aren’t going away,

Those seeking enforceable controls over the cruise industry, despite Judge Newman’s legal opinion, see the cruise ships as floating hotels for 3,500 that dwarf downtown hotels but don’t have to follow the rules hotels do. The advocates for cruise control are not a small group of whiners and “snobs,” as cruise supporters have charged.

And they are not just local. The National Trust for Historic Preservation has put Charleston on a watch list as an endangered place because of the cruise industry’s impact. Both Ansonborough and Charlestowne neighborhoods fear losing National Register status.

The Preservation Society is concerned lest its historic easements could be impaired.

The Charleston County Medical Society and the S.C. Medical Association have both resolved that emissions from cruise ships are a threat to people’s health.

Meanwhile, more than a half-dozen neighborhood associations and preservationists last week asked the Department of Health and Environmental Control to rescind a permit allowing the State Ports Authority to drive piles for a new cruise terminal.

It is a pity that the cruise question ended up in litigation. It could have been averted in an efficient and friendly way with some simple legal limits.

Certainly, the city has gone the extra mile in regulating other less intrusive tourism-related operations.

Optimally, Judge Newman’s recommendation will force the issue of regulating cruise ships to protect what preservationists have dubbed “the delicate balance” of tourism, business and residential living.

Originally Posted Here

Even the Post & Courier agrees “Carnival’s Green Image is just a Fantasy!”

Original Source

OK, Carnival, write 1,000 times: I will not pollute the water and the air. I will not pollute the water and the air.

Something has got to drive home to Carnival Cruise Lines that it is not all right to send the Fantasy to the port of Charleston when it has scored an F for its environmental footprint.

Environmental advocacy group Friends of the Earth’s recently released Cruise Ship Report Card compares 15 major cruise lines and 148 cruise ships. The good news … sort of … is that Carnival Cruise Lines has improved from an F to a D+.

Marcie Keever, oceans and vessels project director for Friends of the Earth, said Carnival’s grade improved in part because it installed shoreside power on two of its ships.

“Imagine if Carnival implemented these changes across its entire fleet,” she said.

At present, imagination will have to suffice in Charleston, where the Fantasy is homeported. The ship scored an F in reducing air pollution.

It also scored an F in sewage treatment, for an overall grade of F. Air emissions have provided the most cause for complaint locally, by far.

The report card indicates that Carnival Cruise Lines could do a better job than it has done — and particularly for the Fantasy. And those improvements would benefit the 3,530 people who might be aboard and the people on shore who breathe the same air.

Adding shoreside electrical power, which allows ships at berth to cut off their emissions-spouting diesel engines, would be a good start. And now would be a good time, since state environmental regulators recently approved the port’s proposed new passenger terminal at Union Pier, which the Fantasy will use.

Shoreside power would almost assuredly pull up the Fantasy’s sad grade.

Charleston City Council, which has so far declined to put any meaningful restrictions on Carnival, should take note of the report card.

Viewed in context with local complaints about the Fantasy, it offers compelling reading — and more evidence that the city shouldn’t be a passive host to the cruise industry.

It Does Seem More Than a Little Hypocritical

New cruise permit, but same haze

In granting permission for a new cruise passenger terminal in Charleston, the S.C. office of Ocean and Coastal Resource Management also acknowledged the importance of regulating the cruise industry that will use the terminal.

Unfortunately, the limitations that the city of Charleston and the S.C. State Ports Authority have agreed upon, and that the OCRM has endorsed, still are not binding.

During its quest to turn an old warehouse at Union Pier into a cruise terminal, the SPA and the city developed a cruise management plan, which limits the number and size of cruise ships calling on Charleston. The very fact that the plan was developed indicates those entities see the value of such restrictions.

Now, as announced Tuesday, the OCRM has included that management plan as a special condition for allowing the SPA to start installing piles for the new terminal.

If all agree that it is a good idea to limit the size and number of cruise ships in a city already attracting large numbers of visitors to a limited historic area, why make the plan for managing it voluntary?

Codifying these reasonable limitations would go a long way toward easing public concerns about the impacts of expanded cruise operations on the Charleston peninsula.

And making the rules binding would likely convince the National Trust for Historic Preservation to take Charleston off its list of places in jeopardy.

But the SPA and the city both have refused to take that step.

If the purpose of the management plan is to, well, manage the business, then why the dodge?

The OCRM and Carnival Cruise Lines (whose Fantasy cruise ship is home-based here) both profess that they value the environment. But neither has called for shoreside power, even though it is accepted as a good way to control emissions that can harm people’s health.

Shoreside power allows ships to use electricity to keep the air conditioning and lights on without emissions spewing from idling engines of vessels that are docked for hours.

Carnival has altered some of its ships to use shoreside power, and has bragged about its environmental conscience.

But not in Charleston. And neither the city nor the state OCRM (part of the Department of Healthand Environmental Control) has gone to bat for the people who live and work in the area and who breathe what the ships produce.

Ironically, the OCRM permit for the passenger terminal requires SPA contractors on the project to take measures to minimize air emissions — including turning off vehicles not in active use.

The SPA’s success is vital to the economy of Charleston and of South Carolina. It is good news that container traffic grew this year, and that Moody’s Investors Service has affirmed the SPA’s A1 rating, anticipating a stable future.

These recently announced achievements show that the SPA is under capable management — capable enough to see that real limitations would be an easy and effective way to calm the troublesome cruise industry debate.


Buy Tickets Now! – Symposium on Cruise Ships in Historic Port Communities

Save the Date/Buy Your Tickets Now! February 6-8
Charleston will be the host city for an international symposium:Harboring Tourism: A Symposium on Cruise Ships in Historic Port Communities.  The three day event is being sponsored by the Preservation Society of Charleston, World Monuments Fund and National Trust for Historic Preservation.

Carnival Fantasy earns an “F” for 2012


Friends of the Earth has just released its Cruise Line Report Card for 2012, which can be viewed here:

Friends of the Earth’s Cruise Line Report Card compares the environmental footprint of 15 major cruise lines and 148 cruise ships, in order to help vacationers decide which cruise to take based on a cruise ship or cruise line’s environmental and human health impacts.

Carnival Cruise Lines began homeporting the Carnival Fantasy (the oldest ship in its fleet) in Charleston beginning in 2010. The Carnival Fantasy earned an overall grade this year of an “F.” The grade is the result of the following:


  • In the category of Water Quality Compliance, the ship received an “N/A,” since it does not visit Alaska and that state is the only one actually tracking whether cruise ships pollute their water.
  • In the category of Sewage Treatment, the ship received an “F” because it does not have the most advanced sewage and wastewater treatment systems available, and instead dumps minimally treated sewage directly into the water.
  • In the category of Air Pollution Reduction, the ship received an “F” because it has not been retrofitted to plug in to shorepower, and instead runs polluting engines when docked in the heart of our downtown area.

Carnival Cruise Lines as a whole earned an overall grade of a “D+.” This is an improvement from the “F” it earned in 2010. Carnival Cruise Lines has 24 ships, and only two of those ships have advanced sewage treatment systems. The line has one ship operating in Alaska, and during the graded year received three citations from Alaskan authorities for violations of the state’s water pollution standards. Most notably, half of the lines’ ships that dock at a port with shoreside power are plug-in capable, so there is no reason the company could not invest in the same retrofit for us in Charleston.

It is also important to distinguish that Carnival Corporation, the world’s largest cruise holder, owns nearly half of the lines in this report, not just Carnival Cruise Lines.

Finally, the lead for the letter and enclosures I mailed you yesterday can read, “On November 30, executive director Carrie Agnew, mailed the letter below to Carnival Corp CEO Micky Arison.  Sent via certified mail/return receipt requested, this is the seventh letter C4 has sent this year.
The subject continues to ask for the answers to the questions posed not only by our organization but also the numerous other groups and individuals. Enclosed were Agnew’s recent commentary in the Post & Courier and letter to the editor that ran in the Charleston Mercury.
Carnival Cruise Lines CEO, Gerry Cahill, was copied, as were the presiding director Stuart Subotnick, Sir John Parker, Chairman of Carnival’s HESS Committee, and Carnival Corp & Carnival Cruise Lines Director of Public Relations, Lanie Morgenstern.  Mayor Joe Riley and Jim Newsome were also copied on the letter.


Nov. 30th Letter to Micky Arison, CEO of Carnival Corp


On November 30, 2012, C4 Executive Director Carrie Agnew mailed the following letter to Micky Arison, CEO of Carnival Corp with copies to Gerry Cahill (CEO, Carnival Cruise Lines), Stuart Subotnick (Presiding Director), Sir John Parker (Chairman HESS Committee), Lanie Morgenstern (Director of Public Relations Carnival Corp/Carnival Cruise Lines), Mayor Joseph P. Riley (City of Charleston), James Newsome (President & CEO SC State Ports Authority)

Mr. Micky Arison
CEO Carnival Corp
3655 N.W. 87th Ave.
Miami, FL 33178-2428
Via Certified Mail; Return-Receipt Requested


Dear Mr. Arison:

The controversy in Charleston over cruise ship numbers, size and the proper location of a cruise ship terminal is not going away.

In contrast, concern is increasing.

The enclosed Op-Ed of November 9 in the Charleston Post and Courier and Letter to the Editor from November 14 printed in the Charleston Mercury make the points. The affected residents of Charleston will not accept an unregulated cruise ship industry at an inappropriate location, in spite of assurances you may have received from our Mayor and the SCSPA.

Charleston Communities for Cruise Control continues to press the issues. For example, our first in a series of billboards read “Save Charleston. Support Cruise Control.” The second asked the question “How many are too many?” The third may ask “How big is too big?” Another might ask “Why not a better location?” We have made statements at public hearings on required permits. Our “no soot” flags fly throughout the historic district. We regularly alert and update a long list of supporters. We maintain a website of growing resources.

We look forward to the international conference on cruise ship operations in historic cities planned to be held in Charleston on February 6-8, 2013. The conference is sponsored by The Preservation Society of Charleston, the World Monuments Fund and the National Trust for Historic Preservation. Issues of appropriate size, number and location must be addressed in order to protect historic sites and maintain the very characteristics that attract visitors to Charleston. The short term objectives of cruise line companies cannot be allowed to have a negative effect on these historic districts and residential neighborhoods. Companies with a sense of social responsibility will respond to this, take action and become welcome.

Stephanie Meeks, Executive Director of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, spoke in Charleston on November 15 on the NTHP’s recent efforts to support a study of the true impact of cruise ship visits and support regulation of cruise ship operations at Union Pier. Charleston continues to be on the Watch list for the 11 Most Endangered Places.

Walmart showed significant social responsibility in January 2011 when it agreed, after discussions with the National Trust for Historic Preservation and other groups, to seek a different location for a Superstore originally planned to be built within the Civil War Wilderness battlefield. Perhaps Carnival as the main user of the planned new cruise ship terminal at Union Pier could support the determination of an alternative cruise terminal site and avoid the congestion, noise, pollution and inappropriate ship scale at an historic site?

Since Carnival expects a world class cruise ship terminal, we’re sure you will agree that the rebuild of a derelict shed on Union Pier into a cruise ship terminal at a cost of over $35 million is not a mere “maintenance” project. This is what the SCSPA asserted in its permit application to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in order to sidestep reviews of historic and environmental impacts under the National Historic Preservation Act and National Environmental Policy Act. A federal lawsuit brought by The Preservation Society of Charleston and the Coastal Conservation League challenges the granting of this permit. We expect your Board of Directors would want to know that all required terminal siting considerations have been appropriately reviewed for a facility of which Carnival will be the principal user?

Your refusal to respond to our seven simple questions in prior letters will not result in these issues going away.

We hope you will pay more respect to the legitimate concerns of residents affected by your operations and to the long list of advocates for reasonable limits. For operations at Union Pier, express limits on size and number of cruise ships are a must, in addition to shore power and low sulfur fuel. Our health, our quality of life and the preservation of the nation’s heritage are of vital importance to us—and we would hope of enough importance to you to merit comment and seek solutions.

You state in your corporate Sustainability Report 2010 that “the viability of our business and our reputation depend on being more sustainable and transparent.” The same Report says that “The health of our business is inextricably linked to the health of our communities”. Your HESS Policy says that you will “identify the aspects of our business that impact the environment and take appropriate action to minimize the impact”.

Now is the time for transparency and action with respect to Carnival’s operations in Charleston. Please respond to our seven questions!

Additionally, Carnival Cruise Lines recently announced plans for a new 4,000 passenger ship, and you were cited as saying new ships could replace existing capacity after the possible sale of older ships. The Fantasy may be Carnival’s oldest ship. What are your plans for the Fantasy? The SCSPA has pledged that the city will not see cruise ships larger than those currently visiting Charleston.


We continue to look forward to your responses.



Carrie Agnew

Executive Director

Charleston Communities for Cruise Control




cc: Gerry Cahill, CEO Carnival Cruise Lines

Stuart Subotnick, Presiding Director

Sir John Parker, Chairman HESS Committee

Lanie Morgenstern, Director of Public Relations Carnival Corp/Carnival Cruise Lines


Mayor Joseph P. Riley, City of Charleston

James Newsome, President & CEO SC State Ports Authority


How Can So Many Experts Be Wrong About the Detrimental Effects of Cruise Ship Air-Borne Emissions?

Original article can be seen here.

Could so many doctors and scientists be so wrong about the ill effects of diesel emissions on people’s health?

It would be tempting to read today’s commentary by Rep. Jim Merrill, R-Berkeley, and breathe easy about cruise ships emissions. But to do go there, you’d have to ignore the Charleston County Medical Society; the South Carolina Medical Association; the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment; the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health; the Air Resources Board; the New England Journal of Medicine; the Journal of the American Medical Association; and the World Health Association.

Mr. Merrill argues that air quality in Charleston is fine, and that moving the State Ports Authority’s passenger terminal upriver 300 yards will make it even better. He says that the air meets state and federal requirements, and that cruise ships in port aren’t an issue for concern.

What he doesn’t say is that Carnival Cruise Lines, which has up to 104 cruises a year initiating in Charleston, is working to weaken federal air quality standards. Or that Carnival has helped other ports it calls on mitigate emissions by installing shoreside plug-in power. Someone there must see merit in using electricity and thus allowing cruise ships to turn off their diesel engines while docked.

The SPA contends that the cost of installing shoreside power does not justify doing it. Government standards, and a port in compliance with them, are enough to protect people who live nearby.

But the state medical association felt strongly enough about the matter to pass a resolution promoting shoreside power.

And numerous scientific research efforts have concluded, among other findings, that people who work around diesel driven equipment are more likely to develop lung cancer than those who are not exposed to diesel emissions; that diesel exhaust is associated with eye, nose, throat and lung irritation, headaches, lightheadedness and aggravated chronic respiratory problems; that fine particulate air pollution leads to an increase of lung cancer deaths and cardiopulmonary mortality; and that particulate matter is related to an increase in the risk of infant deaths.

Perhaps on Daniel Island, where Mr. Merrill lives, people don’t see it. But residents who live close to the passenger terminal complain that their porches and cars are black from the emissions. They don’t feel they can breathe a sigh of relief.

Not yet.

C4 Continues to Seek Assessment of Size, Number and Frequency of Cruise ships in Charleston

Original article can be seen here.

How many is too many? How big is too big? And at what cost does it all come?

Charleston Communities for Cruise Control (C4) has repeatedly raised issues of number, size and environmental impact with respect to cruise ships on its website, at public hearings, in letters to Carnival and on billboards along I-26.

Our current billboard poses the question “How many is too many?” One alarming statistic, recently precisely calculated (and vetted by the Environmental Protection Association), is that the Carnival Fantasy idling a single engine while at Union Pier for 10 hours spews sulfur dioxide emissions equivalent to over 34,000 idling tractor-trailers for the same amount of time. And that is after 2015, when the new cleaner fuel standards are fully in place. It should be noted that Carnival and its trade association have been lobbying hard to eliminate this improvement.

We recall initial assurances that cruise ship visits would be about two per week, which then became an average of two per week, then no more than 104 per year. We have seen those visits concentrated in the already active and crowded months of October and April, with up to four per week. We remain concerned that the dock length and parking planned for the new cruise terminal at Union Pier could accommodate more and bigger ships.

Why else construct a terminal that can handle far greater activity?

With respect to the proposed cruise ship terminal at Union Pier, we were disappointed that our State Ports Authority obtained a necessary permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, sidestepping reviews of impacts on historic sites and the environment as required by the National Historic Preservation Act and National Environmental Policy Act. The SPA was able to do so by characterizing the $35 million rebuild of a dilapidated shed into a new cruise ship terminal as a “maintenance” project.

C4 is heartened by the challenge to this permit now pending in federal court and looks forward to participating in an appropriate future review process.

Likewise, it is curious that the SPA has never addressed several questions posed by the state’s Office of Coastal and Ocean Resource Management in connection with its piling permit application.

Specifically, what other potential terminal sites were studied?

What are the potential impacts on adjacent neighborhood property values?

Where is their “proof of coordination” with the State Historic Preservation office?

A permit should not be considered without these questions being answered.

Other billboards could pose the question “How big is too big?” The new generation of cruise ships has 13 to 15 decks and carries 5,000 passengers and crew.

We might also ask “Is there a better terminal location?”

A cruise ship terminal at Union Pier is in the heart of historic districts and residential neighborhoods. Other locations would provide more distance from residents and easier access to ship passengers and provision trucks.

Other cities, notably Boston and Hamilton, Bermuda, have located new terminals farther from historic areas. Venice, Italy, is suffering greatly from having cruise ships dock in the midst of its historic sites.

We are glad to read of the port’s recent reports of favorable developments with respect to cargo business. C4 is pro-port, pro-business and pro-tourism, as well as pro-quality of life and for perpetuating the very characteristics of Charleston that keeps tourists coming.

The balance between the two aspects of life and work in Charleston has been carefully managed in the past with great success, resulting in Charleston recently being voted “Best Tourist Destination in the World.” After so much work by so many, it would be sad to put that designation at risk by allowing the cruise industry to grow unregulated here.

We join with the National Trust for Historic Preservation, World Monuments Fund, Charleston Preservation Society, Historic Charleston Foundation, Historic Ansonborough Neighborhood Association, Wagener Terrace Neighborhood Association, Charlestown Neighborhood Association, Committee to Save the City, Coastal Conservation League, The Post and Courier, Charleston Mercury and local real estate and hospitality professionals in calling for a reasonable, enforceable regime addressing number, size, frequency and emissions of cruise ships calling in Charleston.

Carrie Agnew is executive director of Charleston Communities for Cruise Control (

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