Some members of Congress and local regulators are demanding that the Bush administration curtail the ship pollutants to protect health instead of waiting for other countries to agree to take action.
The Environmental Protection Agency decided to hold off on its own rules for oceangoing vessels while trying to push its standards through the U.N. International Maritime Organization. After that body acts, EPA plans to issue its regulations next year.
That's too long, some lawmakers and environmental advocates say. Legislation pending in Congress would require that the EPA act on its own to keep the growing shipping industry from eroding gains made in reducing diesel emissions from vehicles.
Maritime diesel emissions cause an estimated 60,000 premature deaths a year worldwide, according to a peer-reviewed study by James Corbett, a freight transportation expert
at the University of Delaware.
EPA proposes that the global body adopt steep reductions in hazardous diesel emissions, similar to the congressional proposal. Whatever the outcome, the U.S. agency ultimately will regulate as it sees fit to protect U.S. seaports, said Margo Oge, director of EPA's Office of Transportation and Air Quality.