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Press Release

Alaska Files Amended Complaint in Suit Over Emission Control Area

September 18, 2012

Anchorage, AK – The State of Alaska filed an amended complaint today in its lawsuit against the federal government to prevent enforcement of an emission control area (ECA) in the state. Under rules promulgated by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), as of August 1, 2012, marine vessels in the ECA must use expensive low-sulfur fuel. The ECA includes the waters within 200 miles of the Southcentral and Southeastern Alaska coasts. The state’s lawsuit aims to overturn the extension of the ECA to Alaska.

"The ECA could have a negative impact on Alaska, especially the rural areas," Alaska Attorney General Michael Geraghty said. "Alaska relies on marine shipping for the majority of its goods as well as tourism, and higher costs in shipping means higher prices at the store and potential job losses."

The state believes that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton violated the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships and the Administrative Procedure Act when she accepted an amendment to an international treaty extending the ECA to Alaska. The secretary's decision violates those statutes because there is no environmental justification for extending the ECA to Alaska, as required by federal law. This is evidenced by the fact that Alaska already enjoys air quality that is generally cleaner than the EPA’s National Ambient Air Quality Standards.

The state asserts that the extension of the ECA to Alaska was also illegal because Secretary Clinton’s acceptance of the ECA amendment did not create domestic federal law under the U.S. Constitution, and because federal law requires that the extension of the ECA to Alaska be accomplished, not through unilateral action by the secretary of state, but by the EPA through formal rulemaking.

“We remain hopeful that the federal government will take appropriate actions to stop the enforcement of the ECA in the waters off the coast of Alaska and not impose additional costs and lost jobs on Alaskans without justification,” Attorney General Geraghty said.

For more information, please contact Assistant Attorney General Seth Beausang at (907) 269-5289.

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