The American Association of Port Authorities (AAPA) hailed passage of a bill in the U.S. House of Representatives on Monday that would strictly limit air emissions from ships
visiting this country’s seaports. The Maritime Pollution Prevention Act of
2007 (H.R. 802), sponsored by Congressmen James L. Oberstar (D-MN; chairman
of the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure) and Elijah E.
Cummings (D-MD; chairman of the Subcommittee on Transportation and
Infrastructure), would institute the legal changes needed to bring the
United States into compliance with the International Convention for the
Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL Convention) Annex VI.
“AAPA applauds Congressmen Oberstar and Cummings for introducing, and the
House of Representatives for approving, legislation to implement MARPOL
Annex VI,” said Kurt Nagle, AAPA’s president and CEO. “While port
authorities nationwide are taking steps to reduce their air emissions from
land-based sources, such as cargo handling equipment and trucks idling at
port entry gates, they can’t control emissions from foreign-flagged
oceangoing vessels, which represent an unregulated source of port area
Nagle noted further that implementing MARPOL Annex VI will bring the
U.S. into compliance with the international standards for vessels that
operate worldwide and, thus, should be subject to international
requirements. “Since the international treaty has already been in effect for
nearly two years, AAPA urges the Senate to act quickly on this legislation,
which will improve the air quality in many port communities,” he said.
MARPOL Annex VI entered into force in May 2005. The international treaty
sets limits on sulfur oxide emissions from ship exhausts. It also allows for
Sulfur Emissions Control Areas (SECAs) to be established with more stringent
Air quality issues are particularly relevant for more than 30 U.S. ports
that operate in counties currently designated as “non-attainment” or
“maintenance” for one or more of the national ambient air quality standards
(NAAQS). The NAAQS mandate levels of particulate matter (PM) and ozone that
are acceptable for public health and the environment, and counties that do
not achieve these standards must take action to reduce air emissions.