Environmental Protection

U.S. Ships Need to Make Ready for Air Standards

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has proposed a rule under the Clean Air Act that sets tough engine and fuel standards for U.S. flagged ships, according to a July 1 press release.

"These emissions are contributing to health, environmental, and economic challenges for port communities and others that are miles inland," said EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson. "Lowering emissions from American ships will help safeguard our port communities, and demonstrate American leadership in protecting our health and the environment around the globe."

The rule comes on the heels of a proposal last March by the United States and Canada to designate thousands of miles of the two countries' coasts as an Emission Control Area (ECA). The International Maritime Organization (IMO), a United Nations agency, begins consideration of the ECA plan this month, which would result in stringent standards for large ships operating within 200 nautical miles of the coasts of Canada and the United States.

EPA is proposing to revise the CAA engine program to include two additional tiers of nitrogen oxides (NOx) standards for new Category 3 marine diesel engines installed on vessels flagged or registered in the United States. The proposed near-term Tier 2 standards for newly built engines would apply beginning in 2011 and would require more efficient use of current engine technologies. The Tier 2 standards would result in a 15 to 25 percent NOx reduction below the current Tier 1 levels. The proposed long-term Tier 3 standards would apply beginning in 2016 and would require the use of high efficiency aftertreatment technology to achieve NOx reductions 80 percent below the current levels.

Air pollution from large ships, such as oil tankers and cargo ships, is expected to grow rapidly in line with port traffic increases, agency officials said. By 2030, the domestic and international strategy is expected to reduce annual emissions of NOx from large marine diesel engines by about 1.2 million tons and particulate matter (PM) emissions by about 143,000 tons. When fully implemented, the coordinated effort would reduce NOx emissions by 80 percent and PM emissions by 85 percent compared to current emissions.

EPA estimates that in 2030, this effort would prevent between 13,000 and 33,000 premature deaths, 1.5 million work days lost, and 10 million minor restricted-activity days. The estimated annual health benefits in 2030 as a result of reduced air pollution are valued between $110 and $280 billion at an annual projected cost of approximately $3.1 billion.

Find more information on the components of the coordinated strategy on ocean-going vessels, including the proposed Clean Air Act standards and the ECA designation.

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