Senate Hearing on Emission Reductions

Friday, February 15, 2008
Pictured is Senator Boxer.

On February 14, the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works conducted a legislative hearing on the Marine Vessel Emissions Reduction Act of 2007 (S. 1499). Committee Chair Barbara Boxer (D-CA) discussed the harmful air emissions from ships and the measures that would be required if her proposed legislation were enacted. Ranking Member James Inhofe (R-OK) pointed out that adoption of MARPOL Annex VI is preferable to enacting unilateral legislation. Senator David Vitter (R-LA) expressed concern about unintended consequences of this unilateral legislation, particularly for ports that are currently in compliance with applicable clean air requirements. Mr. Bryan Wood-Thomas, EPA, explained his agency’s and IMO’s efforts to date to reduce air emissions from ships. He stated that the ability of the United States to influence further tightening of standards in MARPOL Annex VI will be undermined if the US does not soon ratify the Annex. Ms. Lisa P. Jackson, New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, stated that reduction in the harmful air emissions from ships is better addressed on a national or international basis than on a local basis. Dr. Barry R. Wallerstein, South Coast Air Quality Management District, stated that the United States should not wait for the IMO to adopt acceptable standards. Ms. Jennifer J. Mouton, Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality, pointed out that the bill should provide for preparation of air emission inventories for each port and should include funding for the costs of implementation. Mr. Richard Kassel, Natural Resources Defense Council, stated that the proposed legislation will provide an incentive for the IMO to move forward with enhanced air emission standards. Dr. John G. Miller, Fellow of the American College of Emergency Physicians, discussed the Southern California Diesel Death Zone of the Port of San Pedro. Mr. Jonah Ramirez, Youth Community Member from Southern California, testified concerning the impact of air emissions from ships on his asthmatic condition. Mr. Joe Accardo, Ports Association of Louisiana, recommended that, rather than enacting the proposed legislation, the United States should ratify MARPOL Annex VI and work through IMO to enhance the international standards. Mr. Joel Chaisson, Port of South Louisiana, testified that enactment of this unilateral legislation would harm efforts to achieve international agreement. Mr. Ken Wells, Offshore Marine Services Association, testified that there are a number of practical difficulties with the proposed legislation and that the problem of air emissions from ships is better handled on an international basis. (HK Law)

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