As stimulus bill advances, green groups reiterate cruise bailout terms

As stimulus bill advances, green groups reiterate cruise bailout terms

Wednesday March 25, 2020

Workers and communities, not polluting corporations, should be priority during coronavirus crisis

WASHINGTON – As a coronavirus stimulus bill advanced through Congress early Wednesday morning, with the Senate and House expected to vote at any moment today, a coalition of green groups including Stand.earth, Greenpeace, and Friends of the Earth US reiterate their terms for any potential cruise industry bailout. On Friday, the groups sent a letter to the U.S. House and Senate leadership outlining their concerns.

Read the letter: https://www.stand.earth/sites/stand/files/Congress%20Cruise%20Bailout%20Letter.pdf

In the letter, the groups call on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, and Speaker Nancy Pelosi to instead focus on providing relief to impacted workers and affected communities, not the rule-breaking cruise industry. 

The final text of the bill was not available as of 9:45am PST / 12:45pm EST Wednesday. Earlier in the day, some House representatives voiced their concerns over provisions in the bill for the $500 billion lending fund for industries and corporations, such as the cruise industry. 

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez wrote on Twitter: "The developments of this Senate relief bill are concerning. We are hearing lots of vague statements, but not a single member of Congress has seen actual bill text. It seems to give a *HALF TRILLION DOLLARS* away to big corporations, w/ few worker protections. Half a trillion."

In the letter, green groups argue the cruise industry has notoriously opposed common-sense regulations and pollutes with abandon, even when under federal court oversight. Since the 1990s, all major cruise companies have been caught polluting, been fined millions of dollars, and/or been on federal probation. In 2018, Miami-based Carnival Corporation, which claims by far the largest share of the global market, paid almost no US taxes as a foreign corporation (Panama) with all of its more than 100 ships registered in other countries.

“The cruise industry has an abysmal track record. These companies are incorporated overseas to avoid paying almost all U.S. taxes and circumvent U.S. labor laws. Companies also have a long history of flouting U.S. environmental regulations, which is why any bailout must include strong air and water pollution measures,” said Kendra Ulrich, Shipping Campaign Director at Stand.earth. “Most cruise ships burn heavy fuel oil, one of the dirtiest fossil fuels available, and the air quality on cruise ships can be worse than some of the world’s most polluted cities. If the federal government wants to bail out the cruise industry, there need to be clear stipulations on how the money is spent, first by benefiting impacted workers and the health of local communities, not by lining executives’ pockets.”

“The cruise ship industry should not be rewarded for polluting our oceans, breaking laws, harming communities and mistreating workers,” said Marcie Keever, oceans and vessels program director at Friends of the Earth. “Congress must hold the cruise industry accountable for its past abuses and not provide them a single dime before the American people are secure. We must make people and the environment the priority during this health crisis, not cruise industry profits.” 

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Media contact: Virginia Cleaveland, Communications Manager, Stand.earth, media@stand.earth, 510-858-9902

For expert interviews: Kendra Ulrich, Shipping Program Director, Stand.earth, kendra@stand.earth, 360-255-3555