Thursday, December 24, 2009

EPA Sets Future Emissions Standards For US Flagged Shipping

Policy to Clean Up Sea Air Continues but Uncertainty Surrounds Great Lakes Regulations
Shipping News Feature

WASHINGTON – US – In their constant drive to purge the skies of harmful emissions and particulate matter the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a press release this week confirming the standards required for marine diesel engines in the future. All types of carriers, from container shipping and bulk tankers will be included and the programme will be put to the newly elected Council of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) for their policy meeting in March 2010 to coordinate their rules ensuring the same stringent standards apply to every nations vessels entering American and Canadian waters.

EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson commented “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.”

The statement also pointed out that airborne marine pollution did not just affect coastal communities, but could drift and have an influence hundreds of miles inland. Just as the EPA have issued stringent rules regarding bus and freight truck emissions and particulate matter reduction so they now are ensuring that the same standards are met by ship owners.

Once the standards have been internationally ratified the EPA estimates annual reductions of around 1.2 million tonnes of Nitrous Oxides and over 140,000 tonnes of particulates by 2030. The new standards aim to cut NOx by 80% and particulates by 85%. They believe that their strategy can reduce the death rate caused by the noxious substances by between 12,000 and 31,000 annually by the target date. This they estimate will produce savings to the health budget between $110 and $270 billion whereas the cost of implementing the new safety standards comes out at around only $3.1 billion.

The standards required for all engines with a pollution potential can be found by following the links on the EPA main site. In the meantime we await news on the situation on the Great Lakes waterways after the EPA proposals were announced for a drastic reduction of pollutants from the commercial lake traffic. It is our understanding that, after intensive lobbying from Canadian based fleet owners a request was made to Washington to exclude the inland waterways from any new regulations. Under the Integrated Atmospheric Deposition Network (IADN) the two countries work together to maintain a uniform observe and control strategy for air quality in the region.

If lower standards are accepted by one side, the US aim is low sulphur fuel only to be used in lake traffic, the system will be unworkable as the two countries vessels frequently cross national borders whilst plying their trade and airborne pollution obviously is at the whim of the prevailing winds.

Shipping companies on the lakes claim that the increased cost of the cleaner fuels will make cargo transport by water overly expensive putting more trucks on the road at an even higher cost to the environment