EPA Adopts Strong Standards for Large Ships

Sunday, December 27, 2009

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has finalized a rule setting tough engine and fuel standards for large U.S.- flagged ships, a major milestone in the agency’s coordinated strategy to slash harmful marine diesel emissions.

“There are enormous health and environmental consequences that come from marine diesel emissions, affecting both port cities and communities hundreds of miles inland. Stronger standards will help make large ships cleaner and more efficient, and protect millions of Americans from harmful diesel emissions,” said EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson. “Port communities have identified diesel emissions as one of the greatest health threats facing their people – especially their children. These new rules mark a step forward in cutting dangerous pollution in the air we breathe and reducing the harm to our health, our environment, and our economy.”

Air pollution from large ships, such as oil tankers and cargo ships, is expected to grow rapidly as port traffic increases. By 2030, the domestic and international strategy is expected to reduce annual emissions of nitrogen oxides (NOx) from large marine diesel engines by about 1.2 million tons and particulate matter (PM) emissions by about 143,000 tons. When fully implemented, this coordinated effort will reduce NOX emissions from ships by 80 percent, and PM emissions by 85 percent, compared to current emissions.

The emission reductions from the strategy will yield significant health and welfare benefits that span beyond U.S. ports and along our coasts, reaching inland areas. EPA estimates that in 2030, this effort will prevent between 12,000 and 31,000 premature deaths and 1.4 million work days lost. The estimated annual health benefits in 2030 as a result of reduced air pollution are valued between $110b and $270b, which is up to nearly 90 times the projected cost of $3.1b to achieve those results.

This rule, under the Clean Air Act, complements a key piece of EPA’s strategy to designate an emissions control area (ECA) for thousands of miles of U.S. and Canadian coasts. The International Maritime Organization (IMO), a United Nations agency, is set to vote in March 2010 on the adoption of the joint U.S.-Canada ECA, which would result in stringent standards for large foreign-flagged and domestic ships operating within the designated area.

The rule adds two new tiers of NOX standards and strengthens EPA’s diesel fuel program for affected ships. Further, EPA worked with stakeholders and Members of Congress to ensure that the emission reductions are achievable without compromising safety or the maritime economy.

This action represents another milestone in EPA’s decade-long effort to reduce pollution from both new and existing diesel engines under the National Clean Diesel Campaign.

More information on the rule and coordinated strategy is available at: www.epa.gov/otaq/oceanvessels.htm

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