EPA Finalized Emission Rules for Marine Diesel Engines

On Dec. 22, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced final emission standards under the Clean Air Act for new marine diesel engines with per-cylinder displacement at or above 30 liters (called Category 3 marine diesel engines) installed on U.S.-flagged vessels.

The final engine standards are equivalent to those adopted in the amendments to Annex VI to the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (a treaty called "MARPOL"). The emission standards apply in two stages: near-term standards for newly-built engines will apply beginning in 2011, and long-term standards requiring an 80 percent reduction in nitrogen dioxides (NOx) will begin in 2016.

EPA is adopting changes to the diesel fuel program to allow for the production and sale of diesel fuel with up to 1,000 parts per million (ppm) sulfur for use in Category 3 marine vessels. The regulations generally forbid production and sale of fuels with more than 1,000 ppm sulfur for use in most U.S. waters, unless operators achieve equivalent emission reductions in other ways.

The agency also is adopting provisions to apply some emission and fuel standards to foreign-flagged and in-use vessels that are covered by MARPOL Annex VI.

See the electronic Code of Federal Regulations for the full text of current regulations at 40 CFR part 94 or 40 CFR part 1042 that apply to marine compression-ignition engines over 37 KW. The regulations implementing MARPOL Annex VI for vessel operators and for foreign-flagged vessels are at 40 CFR part 1043.

The agency worked with stakeholders and members of Congress to ensure that the emission reductions are achievable without compromising safety or the maritime economy. The projected cost of compliance with the rule is $3.1 billion.

"There are enormous health and environmental consequences that come from marine diesel emissions, affecting both port cities and communities hundreds of miles inland. Stronger standards will help make large ships cleaner and more efficient and protect millions of Americans from harmful diesel emissions," said EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson. "Port communities have identified diesel emissions as one of the greatest health threats facing their people – especially their children."

This rule complements a key piece of EPA's strategy to designate an emissions control area (ECA) for thousands of miles of U.S. and Canadian coasts. The International Maritime Organization (IMO), a United Nations agency, is set to vote in March 2010 on the adoption of the joint U.S.-Canada ECA, which would result in stringent standards for large foreign-flagged and domestic ships operating within the designated area.

Air pollution from large ships, such as oil tankers and cargo ships, is expected to grow rapidly as port traffic increases. 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, this coordinated effort will reduce NOX emissions from ships by 80 percent, and PM emissions by 85 percent, compared to current emissions.

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