Speeches

Governor Gary Locke’s Remarks
Signing of Cruise Ship MOU
April 20, 2004


Good morning. Itís great to be here today to sign this significant document. I want to congratulate the cruise industry for making this commitment to environmentally responsible business practices.

The cruise industry brings many economic benefits to our state. The agreement we are signing shows that we can embrace economic development without sacrificing environmental protection.

The Port of Seattle deserves a lot of the credit for this historic day. A few years ago, we watched the Alaska cruise industry grow. And we dreamed of becoming part of it. The Port went to work and quickly made that dream a reality. At last fallís Northwest Maritime Trade Summit, we discussed the important role maritime trade plays in our economy. And cruise lines are an important and growing part of this sector.

This year, cruise ships will visit Port of Seattle terminals nearly 150 times. They will generate more than 200 million dollars and 1,700 direct and indirect jobs for our stateís economy. Cruise ships buy food and supplies from Washington companies; shipís crews shop in our stores and restaurants. Passengers from other states going on cruises will spend a few days in Washington before and after the cruise and they will shop and dine which will create jobs for Washington residents.

Itís pretty clear that the cruise industry is a good fit for the state of Washington.

There are some growing pains to work out.

But I have been very impressed with the willingness of the cruise industry to work with us to address problems and concerns.

At the summit, we agreed that industry and government share responsibility for protecting the marine environment. We also agreed that environmental efforts in Washington should work in harmony with federal and international protocols. This memorandum accomplishes that.

Cruise liners are floating cities in every respect. Like cities on land of similar size, they provide treatment and proper disposal of their waste.

Some of the largest ships now treat their wastewater to a standard that rivals or exceeds the best of our on-shore treatment plants.

Until a ship can meet this standard Ė even if it meets the lesser federal rules for ship discharges Ė it cannot release wastewater in Washington state.

All of this represents significant investment by the cruise lines in treatment technology.

We all gain a lot through this agreement. We will foster an important maritime industry while also raising the level of protection as these ships pass through our treasured and vulnerable marine waters. Some would prefer legislation to set standards and consequences. Many point to what has been done in Alaska, but Alaska has been able to legislate only with approval of congress. We donít want to wait for congress. Passing legislation in Olympia wouldíve been challenged in court. This memorandum of understanding accomplishes the same standard.

Thank you to the dedicated staff at the Department of Ecology for their leadership in the discussions that produced the memorandum. And thanks to the Northwest Cruise Ship Association and the Port of Seattle for taking this step with us.

This agreement is a positive sign for the future of the cruise industry in Washington. By working together, we will do what is best for both businesses and the environment in our state.

Thank you.

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