Posts Tagged supreme court response

Power Struggle: You Cruise, You Lose!

As taken from The Post and Courier, by Frank Wooten:

Shoreside power to the cruise ships!

That variation on “Power to the people!” won’t generate a rallying cry for Charlestonians demanding that cruise ships use shoreside power when docked here.

But that contentious issue is still sparking hard feelings.

As plugged-in colleague Bo Petersen reported on our front page Wednesday, getting electricity to a cruise ship that “switches off its engine in port to keep from burning polluting fuel” requires an “outlet that zings enough juice to light up several thousand homes.”

However, the venerable Carnival Fantasy, which home-ports at the State Ports Authority’s cruise terminal on the south end of Union Pier, isn’t equipped for shoreside power.

Our story also reported that what “started this whole mess and continues to drive it is toxic black exhaust from the cruise ship smokestacks at dock as the engines provide the ship’s electric power.”

And that powers much of the opposition to the proposed new $35 million SPA terminal at the north end of Union Pier.

Charleston Mayor Joe Riley is on board with SPA President/CEO Jim Newsome for that plan, which includes an extensive — and expensive — waterfront redevelopment beyond the new terminal. Both men stress that you can’t have one (that grand redevelopment) without the other (that swell new terminal).

The Coastal Conservation League and Preservation Society of Charleston are among the groups challenging the terminal construction permit in court.

Some folks see the new terminal and its accompanying redevelopment as needed economic-engine boosters in what is, after all, our Port City.

Some folks question why the city gives cruise ships a virtually free regulatory ride — and why those massive motors should keep belching unhealthy emissions while those vessels are docked.

Some dignified downtown folks are aghast at the unseemly spectacle of cruise passengers clad in T-shirts, shorts and flip-flops roaming freely about our Holy City.

Hazardous voyages

Enough about that divisive power debate for now.

What powers cruisers our way in the first place?

From Carnival’s web site:

“Give in to the genteel feel of the old South on Carnival cruises from Charleston, South Carolina. This is a gracious city of antebellum homes and sprawling plantations, best appreciated from the comfort of a horse-drawn carriage. The city’s unique Low country cuisine and dozens of delicious restaurants make it a southern foodie destination.”

Gee, and we genteel types lucky enough to live in these parts can do all of that without packing ourselves like sardines with strangers on a big boat (actually, a ship).

Most of us who live here even know that Lowcountry is one word.

Anyway, regardless of your present location or desired destination, why risk the ordeals endured by far too many cruisers?

Three months ago, Carnival figuratively threw co-founder Micky Arison overboard from his 35-year job as CEO.

From an Associated Press dispatch: “Arison came under fire during Carnival’s bad publicity earlier in the year when a string of its cruise ships suffered through mechanical problems and fires. The most dramatic of them was the Carnival Triumph where passengers were stranded at sea for five days as toilets backed up and air conditioners failed. There were media reports of raw sewage seeping through walls and carpets.”

We non-cruisers drew fresh validation from those gruesome plumbing details.

Fortunately, though, you can vicariously savor high-seas romance without smelling any broken-down cruise-ship stench.

Just watch vintage reruns of “The Love Boat” online.

Exciting and new

That 1977-87 ABC diversion features a future U.S. House member (Iowa Republican Fred Grandy as ship’s purser Burl “Gopher” Smith) and guest-star rosters of show-biz has-beens (including future California Republican House member Sonny Bono as a rock singer who falls in love with a deaf woman).

Despite a generally breezy tone, the series’ subtle subtexts frequently explore expanding social consciousness.

A DVD synopsis of my favorite episode, from 1978:

“A beauty contest on board ship divides a couple (Maureen McCormick, Bobby Sherman). A reporter (Vicki Lawrence) falls for a disgraced congressman (Dick Van Patten).”

They don’t make TV shows like that anymore.

But they do still make disgraced congressmen.

And they make cruise ships that can use shoreside power.

Frank Wooten is assistant editor of The Post and Courier. His email is wooten@postandcourier.com.

 

Back to drawing board for Army Corps after federal judge orders more review in cruise terminal permit

A federal judge has ordered the Army Corps of Engineers to redo its study that approved a permit for a new cruise terminal in downtown Charleston.

U.S. District Court Judge Richard Gergel said the federal agency did not study all aspects when it awarded a permit last year for five pilings to construct the $35 million terminal at Union Pier.

“The scope of the analysis was done wrong,” Gergel said in court on Thursday. The S.C. State Ports Authority wants to build a new cruise terminal to replace an aging one already at Union Pier. The pilings are needed to convert a former warehouse into the new terminal.

Gergel made the decision after hearing nearly two hours of oral arguments between lawyers in downtown Charleston.

The Coastal Conservation League and the Preservation Society of Charleston are suing the Army Corps over the federal permit, saying partly that the Army Corps didn’t take into account the effect on historical properties.

Gergel sided with the groups on Thursday, saying the Army Corps should have looked at the historical and environmental concerns when it approved the project.

This marks one of three lawsuits opposing expanded cruises in downtown Charleston.

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.”

New Technology to Reduce Air Emissions Does Not Address All Concerns

Thew new technology to reduce air emissions sounds great in theory, BUT does it address the fact that the Carnival Fantasy would not be one of the ships to which they will add the scrubbers – so looks like our harbor will still be victim to nasty fuel and residue!

As taken from Charleston’s Post and Courier on September 8th:

Carnival Cruise Lines’ announcement last week that it plans to install new technology to reduce air emissions on 30 of its ships means more to its shareholders than it does to the people of Charleston who are concerned about dangerous pollutants. The company will install scrubbers to cut sulfur oxide emissions and filters to capture soot. It is cheaper than and expected to be as effective as using federally mandated cleaner fuel, according to the EPA.

And it still leaves Charleston in need of plug-in power for cruise ships while they are docked here.

When Carnival’s Fantasy is at dock for debarkation and embarkation, it continues to idle so that the air conditioning and lights will be operational. While it idles, it emits particulate matter. Even using the cleaner fuel that federal regulations will soon require, emissions would be a problem.

The Port of Long Beach, Calif., (which is switching to shore power) estimates shutting down auxiliary engines for a day is the equivalent of taking 33,000 cars off the road. That’s not good enough. Other ports have installed shoreside power and required cruise ships to use it. It has worked, and Charleston deserves no less.

As a matter of fact, it’s of particular concern here because the port is adjacent to dense residential areas, often crowded with visitors. Those kinds of emissions have been connected to lung disease, heart disease and cancer. Both the Charleston and the South Carolina medical associations have called for shoreside power. The health risk is one reason preservationists, neighborhood associations and environmentalists have sued Carnival. Other reasons are the ship’s impact on congestion as thousands of passengers come and go, noise from loudspeakers, and its visually overwhelming profile.

Soot also has been a major complaint. Maybe the new scrubbers will ease that problem. But altogether, the fear is that the city’s important heritage tourism will be diminished. Opponents haven’t asked that cruise ships be banned, only that they agree to reasonable, enforceable limitations as to the size of the ships, the number of passengers they hold and the frequency of visits here. The city of Charleston has failed to go along.

The port has made some strides in addressing air pollution. For example, it has implemented a program to provide financial incentives to encourage truckers to replace their old diesel rigs with more fuel-efficient trucks. Plug-in electrical power is another effort that the port could make that would improve the livability and the health of its neighbors.

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

Plaintiff’s Attorneys vs Carnival/SPA/Charleston respond to SC Supreme Court’s request for more info

Press Release June 11, 2013

More Info:Balancing Cruise Ship Growth & Charleston Charm

Statement from the Southern Environmental Law Center Regarding SC Supreme Court Ruling on Charleston Cruise Ships

Blan Holman, Managing Attorney, Charleston Office, 843-720-5270

Charleston, SC –  The South Carolina Supreme Court has issued an order allowing a case involving Carnival Cruise Lines’ operations in historic Charleston to proceed forward for further briefing. While the Court dismissed three of the claims against Carnival – regarding noise and sign ordinances, and an environmental permitting claim – it did not adopt a Special Referee’s earlier recommendation to dismiss the remaining seven ordinance and nuisance claims.  Blan Holman, managing attorney for the Southern Environmental Law Center’s Charleston office, issued the following statement:

“We are pleased that our seven strongest claims remain and look forward to showing that Carnival cannot ignore the rules every other business plays by in making Charleston a great city.

We look forward to continuing to act on behalf of citizens to ensure that Carnival follows local laws that protect the city’s healthy environment, treasured historic assets, and booming tourism industry – an industry that depends on balancing Charleston’s unique historic charm with sensible cruise ship operations.” 

As cruise ship traffic has exploded in the heart of Charleston’s historic district in recent years – growing from 33 dockings in 2009 to 89 in 2011, due mostly to the Carnival Fantasy –citizens have demanded that cruise ship operations adhere to existing standards to manage traffic, pollution, and large crowds.  Charleston has thrived through the years by applying these standards to homeowners and all manner of businesses, from hoteliers to rickshaws.

After Charleston City officials claimed to have no power over cruise operations, SELC filed suit in state courts on behalf of neighborhoods and conservation groups to establish that Carnival is indeed subject to local laws that protect the city’s healthy environment and job-creating historic assets. The Supreme Court has asked for additional briefing on whether Carnival is subject to Charleston’s local authority.  Holman said that is a core issue in the case, adding:

“We are hopeful that the city of Charleston will agree that it has the power – and responsibility – to oversee a cruise operations based in Charleston, as the Carnival Fantasy is. The City of Charleston has exerted its authority to safeguard the harbor and the surrounding community for hundreds of years. It would be a shame if officials now abandon Charleston’s waterfront all for the Carnival Fantasy.”

The plaintiffs in the Supreme Court case are the Historic Ansonborough Neighborhood Association, the Charlestowne Neighborhood Association, the Coastal Conservation League, and the Preservation Society of Charleston.

In other proceedings, briefing continues in federal court concerning a permit granted by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for a new cruise terminal in Charleston.  By characterizing the $35 million new terminal as a “maintenance” project, the Corps authorized the S.C. State Ports Authority’s terminal with no public notice or consideration of ways to reduce impacts on federally-protected historic sites and the environment.  SELC represents concerned citizen groups seeking open permit review so that options for harmonizing cruise operations with existing businesses and neighborhoods can be fully evaluated.