Posts Tagged city paper

The City of Charleston embraces cruise ships, shuns new bars

Every municipal policy decision involves a value judgment. The judgments are not always between right and wrong and can often be subjective, particularly when it concerns the type of vices a city wants to eliminate or benefits it wants to attract.

Most reasonable people can agree that unchecked noise, pollution, or crowding in a limited urban space is a bad thing. However when noise, pollution, or crowds are financially beneficial to a city, difficult choices are often made. And those choices do not always reflect the wishes of residents or even the business community.

For instance, the City of Charleston made a choice when it decided that despite the crowds and pollution that cruise ships bring, the benefit of additional tourist dollars makes those negative side effects worth it. It didn’t matter that many residents feared Charleston would become the next Key West or experience increased traffic congestion. It didn’t matter that historic preservation organizations filed lawsuits against the cruise line or that they commissioned studies to show that the economic impact from cruise visitors were not as beneficial to local businesses as the city claimed. Despite the outcry, Mayor Riley and company decided that the benefits from the cruise ships were worth the traffic and the congestion, the complaints and the lawsuits. Charleston even went as far as to join with a cruise line in a lawsuit. That decision was the result of a value judgment.

Now there is another value judgment being made by the City of Charleston. In this case, Mayor Riley and his administration believe that the tax revenue from bars and restaurants is not worth the additional noise, congested streets, and pollution caused by patrons, particularly between the hours of 12 a.m. and 2 a.m. If the rationale for the new midnight closing ordinance is to be believed, we have reached a tipping point where the addition of new establishments would greatly damage the quality of life for some, but not all or even most, of the city’s residents. This judgment has been made despite the fact that capital investment for new bars, restaurants, and hotels in the so-called Entertainment Overlay District have skyrocketed, much to the city’s financial benefit.

Years ago, the City of Charleston had a vested interest in attracting new businesses to then-suffering Upper King Street and the Market area. Not too long ago, Upper King was not a safe place to wander after dark, and even further back, the Market area used to be described as seedy. But the city had a plan. Power lines were put underground. Businesses were asked to contribute to fancy bluestone sidewalks. Stores which were falling apart, like the old Condon’s Department Store, were transformed into apartments for college students and recent graduates. And slowly the tide began to turn. Today, both areas are bustling hubs of activity, day and night.

When the new luxury apartments along King and Meeting streets are able to successfully charge the high rents that they do, it is because of their proximity to Upper King and the bars and restaurants that call the area home. When bar owners invest hundreds of thousands of dollars renovating buildings on Upper King that just five years ago were deserted storefronts, it is because the City of Charleston succeeded in its efforts to attract business. Those investments worked because today Upper King and the Market are areas where young professionals, recent college grads, and tourists want to be. They spend money to eat, drink, and live where there is a vibrant nightlife. So how is it fair for those policy makers to arbitrarily draw a line in the sand and say that the crowds are now too much for the sidewalks to handle? Is there a study that we all somehow missed? And exactly how does the city square its opposition to new bars and its unwavering support for cruise ships and a new downtown cruise ship terminal despite the public outcry?

City Council passes weakened shoreside power resolution

Tuesday night, after considering a resolution in favor of shoreside power plug-ins for visiting cruise ships, Charleston City Council passed a watered-down version of the original resolution. Whereas the original resolution called on state lawmakers to mandate the use of plug-in power at the planned Union Pier cruise terminal in Charleston, the new one deferred the matter to the State Ports Authority’s judgment.

City Councilman William Dudley Gregorie introduced the original resolution, saying it was about “putting people’s health first” and doing “what’s best, not what’s better.” Idling cruise ships release pollutants and known carcinogens into the air while docked in Charleston, and some downtown residents have complained about soot accumulating on their houses since Carnival Cruise Lines started coming to Charleston. Several neighborhood associations and environmental groups have called for the new terminal to include a plug-in for grid power so that cruise ships don’t idle in the harbor. Onshore power has been added to numerous cruise ports, including Brooklyn, N.Y.; Juneau, Alaska; San Francisco, Calif.; and Seattle, Wash.

A study commissioned by the Charleston-based Southern Environmental Law Center found that shoreside power could reduce carbon monoxide emissions from docked cruise ships by as much as 97 percent. The study also found that a 2,000-passenger Carnival ship emits 68.3 metric tons of nitrogen oxide a year while idling in Charleston. With shoreside power, the same ship would emit only 0.8 metric tons of nitrogen oxide per year.

Jim Newsome, president of the State Ports Authority, spoke against the proposal at Tuesday night’s meeting. Installing shoreside power would add an estimated $5 million to Union Pier’s projected $35 million price tag, and the SPA has been fighting the proposal tooth and nail. “There’s really no data that the cruise ships create a health problem in Charleston,” Newsome said at the meeting.

Dr. Gil Baldwin, a local physician, disputed that claim. He said the “elephant in the room” was polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, which are not affected by new “scrubber” technologies in cruise ships’ smokestacks. That particular category of pollutants has been linked to a long list of cancers, and Baldwin said shore power would virtually eliminate their emissions from idling ships.

During council debate over Gregorie’s resolution, Mayor Joseph P. Riley Jr. introduced a shortened version of the resolution with more deferential language, and it ultimately passed 10-2. The new resolution states:

“City Council endorses the actions taken, and to be taken, by the State Ports Authority in maintaining and improving the air quality at the Union Pier terminal and supports the efforts by the General Assembly to assure that funding is available for the installation of shore power at the new passenger terminal, as and when needed.”

Jay Williams, a downtown resident and shore power activist, called the final resolution “a hollow victory” in an e-mail after the meeting.

“It’s sad that the same City Council that stomped out smoking on the sidewalks around our hospitals has never attempted to regulate far more serious toxic emissions from cruise ships in port — or demand the obvious healthy shore power alternative,” Williams wrote.

 

http://www.charlestoncitypaper.com/imager/city-council-passes-weakened-shoreside-power-resolution/b/original/4874437/a135/uncharted-magnum.jpg

illustration by Scott Suchy

http://www.charlestoncitypaper.com/TheBattery/archives/2014/02/28/city-council-passes-weakened-shoreside-power-resolution

Protesters dive into Venice canal to block cruise ships

Protesters have leapt into Venice’s Giudecca canal to delay a procession of cruise ships, which they say are threatening the city’s foundations as they tower over rooftops and drown the city in tourism.

Protesters have leapt into Venice's Giudecca canal to delay a procession of cruise ships, which they say are threatening the city's foundations as they tower over rooftops and drown the city in tourism.

Protesters swim in the Giudecca Canal to block cruise ships inside the port  Photo: Getty Images

By Tom Kington, Rome

1:31PM BST 22 Sep 2013

Around 50 protesters dressed in wetsuits, backed by 1,000 supporters, managed to hold up the cruise ships by over an hour as they paddled in the canal – some armed with inflatable rings.

The protest was timed to coincide with a busy day on the canal, as a scheduling quirk meant 12 cruise ships were due to head past St Mark’s Square – well above the daily average of two ships.

“The demonstration was a great success and we now hope the government will take advantage of this momentum and kick the cruise ships out of the Venice lagoon,” said Silvio Testa, a spokesman for the protesters.

Cruise ship operators claim the ships create little damage to Venice’s fragile palazzi and no pollution, while local fears over safety have been spurred by the grounding of the Costa Concordia cruise ship on the island of Giglio last year and the more recent ramming of an observation tower at the port of Genoa by a cargo ship, killing seven.

Defenders of the ships say 5,000 local families are supported by the jobs guaranteed by the traffic, while protesters counter that the city’s character is being crushed by the daily wave of tourists who disembark, buy a souvenir and then leave. On Saturday an estimated 35,000 cruise ship tourists arrived, equal to over half the city’s population.

The decree, however, allows the ban to come into effect only when alternative routes to the port of Venice have been found, possibly along newly dredged channels across the Venice lagoon – a solution that would take years to implement.

But on Saturday, politicians appeared ready to put a halt to the ships before then.

Andrea Orlando, the environment minister, said he would propose next month the gradual switching of ships to Marghera, a mainland port in the lagoon, even before an alternative route was decided on.

“The time for decisions has arrived, the big ships must go as soon as possible,” said Giorgio Orsoni, mayor of Venice.

Anyone Know Where I Can Plug in My Cruise Ship?

Study: On-shore power would dramatically reduce cruise ship emissions

‘Waiter, there’s small particulate soot in my soup’

Posted by Paul Bowers on Thu, Sep 12, 2013 at 4:00 AM

MIKE LEDFORD FILE PHOTO

  • Mike Ledford file photo

A new study shows that cruise ships docked in Charleston could reduce their carbon monoxide emissions by as much as 97 percent by plugging into the onshore power grid instead of idling their engines.

The report is fodder for an ongoing debate about the future of the Holy City cruise ship industry, sparked by the S.C. State Ports Authority’s plan to build a new $35 million cruise terminal in the historic district and by city leaders’ refusal to enforce caps on cruise ship traffic. Environmental and community groups have filed lawsuits in the matter and pushed SPA to consider incorporating power grid plug-ins in the new terminal design, as has been done at seven other U.S. ports including one in Brooklyn, N.Y., but SPA has refused to make the change. As a result, cruise ships will continue to run their engines at the Charleston port to power lights, air conditioners, refrigerators, and other equipment. In the new study, which was published Monday, these onshore electrical needs are referred to as the “hotelling load factor.”

The study, published Monday, was commissioned by the Charleston-based Southern Environmental Law Center and prepared by the Pittsford, N.Y.-based Energy and Environmental Research Associates, LLC. In estimating emissions, it used methodologies similar to ones used by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the California Air Resources Board.

Under current conditions, according to the report, a switch to onshore power would reduce emissions of carbon monoxide by 92 percent, nitrogen oxide by 98 percent, small particulate soot by 34 percent, and carbon dioxide by 26 percent. The study found that a 2,000-passenger Carnival ship emits 68.3 metric tons of nitrogen oxide per year in the time it idles at the Charleston terminal, whereas the same ship using shore-based power would emit only 0.8 metric tons in Charleston.

The study also looks forward to the year 2019, when Carnival will be operating larger 3,500-passenger ships that are expected to emit more pollutants. By then, the South Carolina utility SCE&G is also expected to have shifted toward natural gas and nuclear power generation, leading to lower emissions from the currently coal-based onshore power source. As a result, the study finds that the emissions cuts from switching to on-shore power would be even more dramatic in 2019: Carbon monoxide emissions would be reduced by 97 percent, nitrogen oxide by 99 percent, small particulate soot by 71 percent, and carbon dioxide by 36 percent.

SPA representative Allison Skipper says she has not seen the report yet, but that her organization “believes Carnival to be operating legally in Charleston” under federal MARPOL (Maritime Pollution) Annex VI emissions standards. Those standards, which went into effect in 2005, placed limits on ships’ emissions of nitrogen oxide and sulphur oxide.

The Coastal Conservation League, a vocal proponent of onshore power for Charleston cruise ships, is touting the report as support for their side in the debate. “People in Charleston are not anti-cruise,” says Katie Zimmerman, a program manager at CCL. “They just want a fair look at options used in other ports to manage cruise impacts and protect human health, and shore power is one of them.”

So, Will Fantasy Be Cleaned Up?

All of this sounds great, in theory…. Does this mean that the City of Charleston and Carnival Cruise Lines are going to take measures to protect our precious city and harbor from  its effects?

——

Federal environmental regulators have reached a tentative deal with Carnival Cruise Lines to reduce air pollution for nearly a third of its cruise ships, officials said today.

The agreement with the Environmental Protection Agency and Coast Guard calls for Carnival to install pollution controls on up to 32 of its ships over the next three years, officials said.

The agreement with the Miami-based cruise ships operator will include Carnival paying $180 million in the new technologies, according to published reports.

Charleston is the home port for Carnival’s Fantasy pleasure vessel, the oldest ship in the company’s fleet.

Emission changes for the 19-year-old vessel is unknown, one Carnival official said.

Jennifer de la Cruz, a spokeswoman for Carnival, said the company is still determining which vessels will get the upgrades.

Cruise ship operations have been a hot-button topic in Charleston.

Some downtown Charleston neighborhood groups and environmentalists have filed lawsuits to block the S.C. State Ports Authority from opening a new $35 million cruise terminal at the north end of Union Pier, alleging it will bring more tourists, traffic congestion and fumes to the historic district.

As taken from Charleston’s Post and Courier, by Tyrone Richardson