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Clear the air with shore power

FEBRUARY 4th, Letter to the Editor, Dudley Gregorie

To protect the health of the city’s downtown residents, I am asking my fellow members of Charleston City Council to adopt a resolution in support of shore power.

The resolution will call on the State Ports Authority to make shore power available at its new state-of-the-art cruise ship terminal.

The times call for shore power as an integral part of this planned 21st century facility. Being equipped for “plug-in” will soon be the norm for newer cruise ships. Anything other than shore power is a bit shortsighted.

On Feb. 11, I will present to the Sustainability Advisory Committee, which I chair, a proposed resolution for consideration in support of shore power.

If approved, the resolution will go before City Council on Feb. 26 for a vote of support. While the City of Charleston has no jurisdiction over the SPA, it’s important that Charleston City Council send a clear message to the SPA that we support shore power, also called shoreside power, for cruise ships that dock here.The majority of the health concerns come from the Charleston-based Carnival Fantasy cruise liner.

Environmental and neighborhood groups have evidence to show the cruise ships pollute the surrounding air while the ship’s engine idles at dock side. Shoreside power allows a ship to plug in to a permanent land-based power supply while docked, eliminating the need for the ship to run its auxiliary engines and burn diesel fuel to run the ship’s equipment while it is tied up at the pier.

The SPA has made it clear that it has no plans to install shoreside power. The agency maintains that better technology is on the horizon, and it is waiting for this innovation.

But I am told that what the SPA’s acceptable substitute to shoreside power is a “less dirty” fuel standard to clear the air when emissions are measured, nullifying the need for shore power.

But after new federal fuel standards are put in place, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates that a cruise ship idling in port will still produce sulfur dioxide air pollution equivalent to more than 34,000 idling diesel trucks.

An extensive study of the cruise operations in the city finds that shore power will substantially lower harmful air pollution even when cruise ships burn “less dirty” fuel as required by federal law.

Joined with staff from the medical establishment, I advocated to make the area in my District around the Medical University of South Carolina and Roper Hospital a “smoke free zone.”

The use of shore power is another step in making the air quality for the residents a primary concern. Just as city council approved this clean air measure for the medical complex, council should continue this effort by supporting shore power for cruise ships to further protect the health of our residents.While the emerging cruise ship industry in the city is an important and welcomed economic gain to the city’s robust tourist sector, the environmental impact that cruise ship emissions pose to the health of our citizens is not a laughing matter but one that needs serious consideration.

A world-class city deserves world-class livability.

William Dudley Gregorie, who represents District 6 on Charleston City Council, is chairman of council’s Sustainability Advisory Committee.

 

Limit cruise-ship consequences on peninsula

FEBRUARY 4th LETTER TO THE EDITOR, Post and Courier, by Steve Gates

Yes, the South Carolina Supreme Court dismissed the lawsuit against Carnival Cruise Lines on a technicality.

The court said that since all members of the public suffer from congestion, pollution and noise associated with cruise ships, the plaintiff neighborhoods did not have standing to sue for individualized effects. Therefore, neighborhood associations near Union Pier, which bear the most direct effects, will not get their day in court.

The basis for the lawsuit was far from frivolous given the seriousness of the issues, the fact that Judge Newman, appointed by the S.C. Supreme Court to hear motions in the case, had recommended that a majority of the counts proceed to trial, and the determination by the Supreme Court in its cruise ship opinion that “All members of the public suffer from and are inconvenienced by traffic congestion, pollution, noise and obstructed views.”

On a positive note, neighborhood associations and preservation groups hopefully will have the opportunity to participate in the historic preservation impact study required by a federal judge to determine whether the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers should issue permits at Union Pier for a new cruise ship terminal.

This study should include analysis of the full scope of impacts of cruise ship operations on the historic district and could explore alternatives to a cruise ship terminal at Union Pier.

Also on a positive note, our Charleston state representatives, recognizing the statutory obligation of the State Ports Authority to consider mitigation of the effects of new projects on the City of Charleston, have proposed state funding for shore power for cruise ships.

Wherever a cruise ship terminal may be located, shore power facilities would be a welcome feature to eliminate the current pollution and soot problems and the health issues emphasized by our county and state medical societies.

Other forward-looking port cities have improved the health and quality of life of residents by finding a way to offer shore power for cruise ships. Use of shore power could eliminate pollution as a consideration in analyzing the best location for a terminal.

We hope our City Council will request that shore power facilities for cruise ships be installed in Charleston.

Neighborhoods near Union Pier have been emphasizing for three years the need to mitigate the impacts of cruise ships on downtown Charleston by limiting the size and number of ships, offering shore power and exploring alternate locations.

A decade from now, there could be a vibrant new waterfront community at Union Pier or there could be a cruise ship terminal and massive parking lot, pressured to take many more visits by even larger cruise ships and significantly influencing the type of development that occurs around it.

Getting this wrong can significantly change the historic Charleston experience and the reason that so many land-based tourists come.

Steve Gates is president of the Charlestowne Neighborhood Association.

Shore Power Now

Check out our “quality of life preserver”… Regulation and Shore Power for the cruise ships calling on Charleston are a must!

Shore Power Now!

The effect of one car

Sanders Clyde School is concerned for their kids’ safety, so they encourage cars not to idle. Encouraging that the cruise ship idling in our harbor equates to (The sulpher dioxide equivalent of tens of thousands of mac trucks…)
IMG_6433

Heard it through the grapevine, how much longer til we plug in?

Ship to shore

A local group that’s pushing cruise ships to turn off their engines and switch to shoreside power while they’re tied up in downtown Charleston is looking for a surge of support over the next few weeks.

Charleston Communities for Cruise Control has designated February as “Shore Power Now” month.

The group says there’s mounting evidence that the use of shoreside power would reduce pollution from cruise ships.

The move comes as state Reps. Jim Merrill and Leon Stavrinakis plan to authorize up to $5 million to install the necessary equipment at the State Ports Authority’s Union Pier Terminal.

The SPA has not endorsed the kind of shorepower the lawmakers are proposing to fund, but it has said there are other technologies that could be used at a new passenger facility it plans to build to the north of its existing structure.

Over? Cruise ship fight isn’t over until we say it is

Over? Cruise ship fight isn’t over until we say it is

by, Brian Hicks, The Post and Courier

The state Supreme Court was pretty dismissive to the “cruise control” crowd last month.

For three years, downtown residents, preservationists and conservationists have tried to put limits on Carnival Cruise Lines’ business and stop the State Ports Authority’s plan to build a new terminal in their back yard.

They’ve been passionate, they’ve been tenacious, they’ve even been flying ugly flags from their downtown homes in protest.

And after all that, South Carolina’s high court dismissed their lawsuit as if it was an afternoon soap opera the justices were embarrassed to admit they’d tuned into.

In fact, they were sort of condescending.

“All members of the public suffer from and are inconvenienced by traffic congestion, pollution, noises and obstructed view, and (p)laintiffs have not alleged they suffer these harms in any personal, individual way,” the ruling read.

Ouch. If that wasn’t dismissive enough, Mayor Joe Riley called the lawsuit “almost laughable” from the start.

Now, he has a point about some of the sillier concerns (“view shed,” indeed), but the reasonable folks involved in this thing aren’t laughing.

And they aren’t finished either.

Pick your battle

Last week, while everyone else was stripping the grocery stores of bread and milk, a group of concerned residents got together to talk about their next steps in the war on cruise ships.

They are on the ropes, no doubt.

The Supreme Court dismissed the suit on a technicality, claiming the groups that filed didn’t have standing. It was something of a dodge. The merits of the case didn’t get a ruling – but they did get criticized a bit in the 11-page decision.

At one point, the justices say the lawsuit “fails to make factual allegations sufficient” to prove zoning is being violated. They mention that they’d already dismissed the argument that the Fantasy’s smokestack violates the city’s sign ordinance.

OK, you’ve got to admit that one was a stretch.

But the court made it clear that individuals could come back and file the same suit, make the same arguments and claim personal damages.

And you can bet your boarding pass that is exactly what some of these folks will do.

This is not over by a long shot. The groups are still challenging the state permitting process, and are watching to see what the Army Corps of Engineers does next on federal permitting, which could lead them to refile that suit.

All that stuff is pretty technical, and not very sexy. It could be effective, though.

But the real nuisance for the city, the port and Carnival will be the next suit – especially if it focuses on pollution.

Shore side solution?

Some folks have not done the cause any favors by complaining about the class of tourists oozing out of the Fantasy.

That has allowed the other side to dismiss all the critics as a bunch of snobs, and that’s not the case.

Truth is, even some of the cruise control folks cringe when they hear that stuff, as they should – because some people are snobs. Well, they’d better get used to tourists. In case they hadn’t heard, we are the best tourist town in the Milky Way Galaxy.

Many of these cruise control advocates are reasonable folks just looking for a little concession. The city, the port and cruise line have felt no compulsion to compromise, however, because they know some people will never be satisfied.

Some people just want the ships gone, period. And that’s not going to happen.

But there is some hope for concerned citizens. State Reps. Jim Merrill and Leon Stavrinakis are pushing for the state to install shore side power capabilities at SPA docks. That could cut down on the group’s most legitimate concern: pollution.

There will always be tourists here, and there will always be traffic. But if downtown residents can prove there is also air pollution, shore side power would be a huge win.

Maybe the two sides could actually find some – gasp – compromise.

And we could finally quit talking about the Un-Loved Boat.

Santa Barbara taking a cue from Charleston?

Check out this interesting article where Santa Barbara looks to Charleston for advice on the increase in cruise ships calling upon their port:

Cruise Control? Thirty ships slated to call on Santa Barbara in 2014
http://www.pacbiztimes.com/2014/01/31/cruise-control-thirty-ships-slated-to-call-on-santa-barbara-in-2014/

Letters to the Editor, Thursday, Jan. 30

Stop the ships

Since the Preservation Society of Charleston and its members have no standing before the court to try to regulate cruise ships, that leaves it up to those who certainly do have a standing: we the people who live here.

Those of us who understand the damage the ships are doing and will do to our beloved city should gather together as individuals, find a lawyer and re-file in our individual names.

Passengers who want to visit Charleston could take a land taxi (jobs) or a water taxi (more jobs) to Charleston. And anybody who doesn’t want to come to Charleston would be welcomed by Mount Pleasant restaurants and other businesses (more jobs) and especially the Yorktown. The Yorktown would benefit immeasurably (even more jobs?).

Docking the ships near the Yorktown in Mount Pleasant would be a win-win for everyone. Why don’t we just do it?

Sue Johnson
Meeting Street
Charleston

Supreme Court Leaves Legality of Cruise Ship Harms in Historic Charleston Unanswered

Press statement from the Southern Environmental Law Center
For Immediate Release: January 22, 2014
Contact: Blan Holman, attorney, SELC, 919-302-6819 (cell)

Supreme Court Leaves Legality of Cruise Ship Harms in Historic Charleston Unanswered

CHARLESTON, S.C.–The South Carolina Supreme Court today left open the question of whether the harms caused by Carnival’s cruise operation in historic Charleston are legal, instead ruling that a case challenging their legality must be brought by individual property owners rather than neighborhood associations and other groups. The crucial questions for Charleston – whether Carnival’s operation is a nuisance that could be cleaned up and whether an international cruise corporation is exempt from local and state laws – remain unresolved.
“We’re disappointed that after two years the Court refused to pass on the legality of Carnival’s operation and instead dismissed the case on a legal technicality that the claims should have been brought by individual property owners rather than neighborhood associations and other groups,” said Blan Holman, the Southern Environmental Law Center attorney who represented the plaintiff groups in the lawsuit. “If the upshot of the order is that individual property owners have to file separate lawsuits, then resolving the underlying legal merits will have gotten more cumbersome and resource intensive for everyone.”
Today’s court ruling did not address whether Carnival’s home basing operation complies with local ordinances, or whether it is a nuisance that interferes with the property rights of neighboring home owners, as the plaintiffs alleged. The Court also did not rule that the kinds of injuries caused by Carnival cannot support a suit – just that the level of injury alleged was too widespread and general.
Holman said the plaintiff groups – the Preservation Society of Charleston, Coastal Conservation League, Historic Ansonborough Neighborhood Association, and Charlestowne Neighborhood Association – will review their options in light of the ruling. Their statements to the court still stand, including affidavits of very specific injuries that the court did not address. Individual property owners have expressed interest in refiling the nuisance case.
The case ruled on today by the court is one of three challenges brought by the nonprofit law center on behalf of some of the same clients. In a challenge to the federal permit for a proposed cruise ship terminal in downtown Charleston capable of home basing an even larger ship than based there now. A federal court ruled last September that the groups had standing and that the permit issued by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers was unlawfully issued. The U.S. Department of Justice attorneys subsequently abandoned its appeal of that decision. Now the Army Corps is starting its reconsideration of the terminal proposal anew.
Groups also challenged state permit for the proposed new terminal in South Carolina Administrative Law Court.
The groups contesting these permits have asked for public consideration of options such as
shore-side power to reduce diesels soot or pollution from the cruise ships, alternative terminal
configurations that minimize disruption to the nearby national Historic District, and standards on
the size and frequency of visits by home-based cruise ships to ensure growth in scale with
historic Charleston.

###

About the Southern Environmental Law Center
The Southern Environmental Law Center is a regional nonprofit using the power of the law to protect the health and environment
of the Southeast (Virginia, Tennessee, North and South Carolina, Georgia, and Alabama). Founded in 1986, SELC’s team of
nearly 60 legal and policy experts represent more than 100 partner groups on issues of climate change and energy, air and water
quality, forests, the coast and wetlands, transportation, and land use. www.SouthernEnvironment.org

Maintain pressure on cruise pollution

Posted: Friday, January 24, 2014 12:01 a.m.

Four years ago this month, hundreds of people gathered for a forum to address Charleston’s “delicate balance” between livability and tourism. Cruise ships emerged as a key concern because of the emissions, crowding and noise they create, and the ships’ oversized profiles.

Since then, a stalwart segment of the community has pushed for reasonable limits on the cruise industry but has achieved little traction with elected officials.

Until now.

State Reps. Jim Merrill and Leon Stavrinakis last week announced their plan to authorize up to $5 million for the State Ports Authority to install plug-in power for cruise ships idling at the dock. The move adds momentum to a debate that needs to be resolved.

And while the S.C. Supreme Court Wednesday dismissed a lawsuit filed against Carnival Cruise Lines, the defeat isn’t as devastating as the cruise line and port have insisted.

Indeed, the ruling did not even consider the substance of the lawsuit, which charged that the Fantasy is injurious to the people of Charleston because of the emissions, noise and congestion it creates. Rather, the case was dismissed on a technicality

And that certainly will not deter advocates of enforceable regulations for cruise ships from continuing to push their case.

The Legislature, when it considers the proposal presented by Mr. Stavrinakis and Mr. Merrill, needs to look beyond this court decision and focus on the very real problems caused by cruise ships that run engines the entire time they are at dock, emitting particulates that are bad for the environment and for people’s health. They will get confirmation from both local and state medical associations who are on record lamenting emissions for medical reasons.

The SPA is not interested in providing shoreside power, saying better technology is expected to be forthcoming. Charleston Mayor Joe Riley and City Council have stood shoulder-to-shoulder with the SPA.

The move by Mr. Merrill, R-Charleston, and Mr. Stavrinakis, D-Charleston, is an indication that momentum is finally shifting in the right direction. At last, an elected body might actually consider a solution to the most serious cruise issue affecting Charleston residents.

It is a pity, however, that the SPA hasn’t stepped up to do the right thing as have other ports around the country, sharing the expense of upfitting for shore power with utilities, local municipalities and cruise lines.

Relying on a state budget allocation has more than its share of problems. The SPA’s lack of interest in plug-in power is certain to discourage legislative support for the proposal. So will the SPA’s rather incredible assertion that it could use the funding elsewhere. Indeed, an SPA statement said, “We anticipate utilizing the industry’s most modern and efficient technologies at the new passenger terminal at Union Pier and applying these proposed funds, if appropriated, to implement these practices.”

No mention of plug-in shore power. Of course, the Legislature could designate an allocation specifically for shoreside power.

Even the Supreme Court ruling concedes that there’s a problem: “In short, these allegations are simply complaints about inconveniences suffered broadly by all persons residing in or passing through the City of  Charleston.”

Mayor Riley, who has aligned the city with the SPA and Carnival from the start, called the recently dismissed lawsuit “almost laughable.”

But to many of his constituents it is a crying shame that the mayor and council are so cavalier about cruise ship problems – including emissions and the potential hazard they pose to the health of people living, working and visiting Charleston.

The cruise ship debate is not over by any means. Some individuals represented by groups in the now-dismissed lawsuit are interested in filing lawsuits about, among other things, their exposure to particulate emissions.

Further, the city of Charleston is scheduled to begin revisiting and possibly updating its tourism management plan. This is a good opportunity for those people who object to the various problems caused by cruise ships to make their case to their elected council representatives.

And it is a good time for officials to start paying attention – and not dismiss residents’ very real concerns as somehow “almost laughable.”

http://www.postandcourier.com/article/20140124/PC1002/140129705/1021/maintain-pressure-on-cruise-pollution