House Passes Bill to Reduce Pollution from Ships

Wednesday, March 28, 2007
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 emissions.” 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 controls.

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.

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