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Calif. senators cosponsor bill to slash air pollution from ships

Posted Oct. 29, 2008 / Posted by: admin

For more information contact:
Teri Shore, Friends of the Earth: 415.544.0790, ext. 19, mobile 707.583.4428 tshore@foe.org

CLEANER SHIP FUELS AND ENGINES WOULD BE REQUIRED ON ALL SHIPS CALLING ON U. S. PORTS -- SENATORS BOXER AND FEINSTEIN RESPOND TO DELAYS IN SHIP REGULATIONS BY U.S. EPA AND INTERNATIONAL MARITIME ORGANIZATION

(Washington DC) Friends of the Earth supports the Marine Vessels Emissions Reduction Act of 2007 introduced yesterday by California Senators Barbara Boxer and Diane Feinstein (S1499) that would require all ships calling on U. S. ports to use cleaner marine fuels and engines to cut air pollution that harms public health and the environment. The bill is needed because no action has been taken to revise federal and global standards for large ship emissions -- instead any new standards were recently delayed by a year or more.

"This bill will help save lives in the diesel death zones near port communities," said Teri Shore of Friends of the Earth (formerly Bluewater Network) in San Francisco. "The senators realized that urgent action was needed to protect people and environment from the air toxics emitted by ship smokestacks after the failure of the U. S. EPA to act."

Congresswoman Hilda L. Solis, Vice Chair of the Environment and Hazardous Materials Subcommittee, introduced the same legislation in the House of Representatives (HR2548) and is joined by Congresswoman Jane Harman and Congresswoman Lois Capps.

The Marine Vessel Emissions Reduction Act of 2007 Summary F Requires significant reductions in emissions of air pollutants from marine vessels that contribute to dangerous smog and soot pollution.

- EPA is to limit the sulfur content of fuel used by domestic and foreign-flagged marine vessels when they enter or leave U.S. ports beginning December 31, 2010.

- EPA must set the limit at no more than 1,000 parts per million unless EPA determines that such a level is not technically feasible by December 31, 2010.

- EPA may set an interim standard as high as 2,000 parts per million, but ust lower the standard to 1,000 parts per million by the earliest date that level is achievable.

- Ocean-going vessels currently burn fuel with an average sulfur content of 27,000 parts per million.

- EPA is to set standards for new and in-use engines in domestic and foreign-flagged oceangoing vessels that enter or leave U.S. ports. The standards are to require the maximum degree of emission reduction achievable by no later than January 1, 2012.

- EPA is to require the same level of emission control achieved by similar engines in other types of vehicles or sources unless EPA determines that level is not achievable by marine engines by January 1, 2012. If EPA makes that determination, it is to set a second tier of more stringent standards to apply beginning January 1, 2016.

After promising to act by April 2007, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency instead delayed adoption of any new regulations for ship engines until December 2009. The delay was made public a week after international regulators delayed any decision on new ship emissions limits until 2008 at the earliest -- in fact, even further delay is possible. Stricter air pollution standards for ships were originally due by July 2007 from the International Maritime Organization.

Friends of the Earth has been calling for 70 to 90 percent reductions in ship emissions and sued the U. S. EPA twice (as Bluewater Network) to achieve air pollution protections from ships. The only response from has been a weak regulation that mirrors obsolete international standards for the U. S. fleet, ignoring the foreign-flagged vessels that comprise 90 percent of calls to the nation's ports. Ship smokestack emissions from the global shipping fleet are projected to double in North America in the next decade, exposing people to deadly diesel exhaust that causes respiratory illness, cancer, heart disease and premature death. Ports and communities in Southern California and the San Francisco Bay Area suffer from higher rates of cancer and asthma due to ship pollution.

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