Congress Backs MARPOL with Bill Passage

Congress has passed H.R. 802, the Maritime Pollution Prevention Act, which will now be transmitted to President Bush for his signature.

The law would implement Annex VI of the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships, more commonly known as MARPOL, providing air quality benefits for port communities in countries that are signatories to the treaty. Annex VI is a global treaty that establishes emission limits for oxides of nitrogen (NOx), oxides of sulfur (SOx), and other pollutants from vessels.

Kurt Nagle, American Association of Port Authorities' president and chief executive officer, said the ports association has strongly advocated for tough new air emissions standards for both foreign and domestic ships that call on U.S. ports.

"While land-based emissions and some marine emissions are the responsibility of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, AAPA believes that an international process is the most effective for vessels, the majority of which are flagged in countries other than the U.S.," he said. "Considering that emissions from ocean-going ships are predicted to grow by more than 70 percent over the next 15 years, it's imperative that meaningful and effective air emissions standards be adopted to improve air quality."

A U.S. delegation led by EPA and U.S. Coast Guard, with support from AAPA and the World Shipping Council, played a lead role in negotiating a suite of amendments that will further reduce air emissions and particulate matter from ships. The IMO's Marine Environment Protection Committee gave the amendments preliminary approval at its meeting last April. Those amendments are expected to be adopted at the Committee's next meeting this October in London.

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