Fed Fuel Regulations Throw Md., Va. Carnival Cruise Jobs Overboard

Published July 6, 2013

The Environmental Protection Agency acts as if every new burdensome demand makes a huge difference for the health and wellbeing of humans, in addition to claims that its costly, excessive regulations upon private business are actual net job creators.

The data and facts easily debunk the agency’s junk science and alien economics, but unfortunately reality has failed to penetrate the Twilight Zone-ish bubble where EPA resides. So color the Beltway enviro-crats shocked every time a private sector industry decides it won’t play ball any more and cuts jobs and moves productivity elsewhere.

The latest corporate example of “I’ve had enough” is Carnival Cruise Lines (Flickr photo courtesy Lisa Andres), which announced last week it would end service from the harbors of Baltimore and Norfolk, Va., due to government requirements that its ships burn low-sulfur fuel within 200 nautical miles of the U.S. coast (with even stricter standards coming in 2015). According to reports in the Baltimore Sun and the Virginian-Pilot, Carnival has been trying to gain approval for a plan to install emissions-reducing “scrubbers” on its ships, and also get a waiver from compliance with the standards until its plan could be fully implemented. The cost for the added technology would have been $200 million, but that still hasn’t been a strong enough offer to budge EPA.

So with a need to schedule cruises well in advance, Carnival informed Baltimore and Norfolk officials it would eliminate service from those cities in favor of Florida and New Orleans. The departure leaves only one other ship operating out of Baltimore, run by Royal Caribbean, and would dramatically reduce the estimated 220 jobs and $90 million the industry puts into the local economy. The impact on Norfolk would be worse – Carnival is the only cruise line there.

“With all the uncertainty, and Carnival having to put its schedule out a year and a half out, they had no other choice,” said James White, executive director of the Maryland Port Administration, to the Sun.

So the big-government fantasists and environmental regulation enthusiasts, proven once again they are industry- and job-killers, reacted with predictable shock. Rather than back up their assertions and distribute proof (which they are never able to produce) that more regulation is good for the economy, they instead blamed Carnival for its decision to protect the health of its business and the profits for its investors.

“It’s absolutely despicable that a company that makes as much money as Carnival would take this action rather than use clean fuel,” said Frank O’Donnell, president of Clean Air Watch, to the Sun.

Typical of a nanny-statist environmentalist to think he knows the highest-best use of a private company’s resources, and how to run their business. Meanwhile the state and local governments, desperate to protect their political interests and support, scrambled to try to salvage the relationship with Carnival. According to the Sun, panicked Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley contacted acting EPA Administrator Bob Perciasepe to urge him to expedite a decision on the cruise company, endorsing the request for a waiver from the fuel standard.

“It’s a big blow if the EPA does not grant a waiver when things on the ship are pretty much under control,” said Helen Delich Bentley, a state port commissioner, who blamed EPA. “What do they want? Do they want people to work, or do they want them to go on welfare?”

The answer is – as those who have observed EPA under the Obama administration and just-departed Administrator Lisa Jackson know – no, they don’t care if people keep their jobs in industries that depend on fossil fuels. The proof is in a series of agency decisions that include the war against coal, the recent Mercury Air Toxics Standard, the revelation that a regional administrator “crucified” oil and gas companies to make them examples, and the prevention of the development of the Keystone Pipeline. That’s just a few.

And O’Malley has his own star-crossed history with environmental regulation. As blogger Mark Newgent has documented at RedMaryland.com, the green-obsessed governor has repeatedly pushed for mandates, energy tax hikes and regulations to harm anything to do with fossil fuels.

“There are, of course, O’Malley’s energy taxes,” Newgent wrote in June 2010, “increasing the Renewable Portfolio Standard and participating in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (a regional cap and trade system). However, O’Malley reeled in the big fish of his agenda in 2009 when the General Assembly passed the Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reduction Act….

“The GHG Reduction Act calls for the Maryland Department of the Environment to create a plan to meet impossible to achieve goal of a 25 percent reduction in 2006 greenhouse gas levels by 2020. The law also states the plan must ‘produce a net economic benefit to the state’s economy and a net increase in jobs in the state,’ in addition to maintaining affordable and reliable fuel and electricity. The law specifically targets transportation and electricity production for reductions.”

Maybe the governor didn’t realize Carnival cruises fall under “transportation.” O’Malley, like so many of his colleagues that hold the reins of political power, is afflicted with the illogic that renewable mandates and energy taxes are compatible with affordable power and net economic and job growth.

O’Malley’s reaction of disbelief to the diagnosis of his condition was predictable. You’re taking your business elsewhere?! You taking jobs to a less expensive place to do business?!

Then the remedial action is like what we’ve seen with Obamacare: the governor goes searching and shuffling through his desk for the tool to keep Carnival in Baltimore – ah, here it is – a waiver!

Only in this situation, the waiver isn’t O’Malley’s to give – it’s EPA’s. According to an earlier Baltimore Sun report, the governor “picked up the phone right away” after he was told Carnival planned to exit Baltimore.

“This is a lot of jobs and this is a lot of revenue,” said Takirra Winfield, O’Malley’s press secretary. “The governor took this seriously and wanted to do everything that he could here to try to get some assistance, keeping in mind that this is a huge deal for our economy.”

As for environmentalists, O’Donnell, the Clean Air Watch president, told the Sun that Carnival was using Maryland to try to escape compliance with air quality standards. “What surprises me a little bit is that O’Malley fell for this so easily,” he said.

Come on – the governor pushed for laws that made Carnival’s decision happen in the first place. After all, he fell for the environmentalists’ lies, didn’t he?

[First Published by National Legal and Policy Center]