Emission Rules Extended To Ships In North American Waters

The reduction of greenhouse gases from international shipping was a major focus for the Marine Environment Protection Committee of the International Maritime Organization (IMO), when the group met last week in London.

In light of the outcome of the United Nations Climate Change Conference held in Copenhagen in December 2009, the IMO recently adopted a proposal creating a North American “Emissions Control Area” (ECA) extending 200 nautical miles from the coasts of the U.S. and Canada.

Under the plan, large ships traveling in the ECA must phase in the use of cleaner fuel and technology. By 2016, new ships will be required to use advanced emissions control systems.

In a statement from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), administrator Lisa P. Jackson said “The sulfur, particulate emissions and other harmful pollutants from large ships reach from our ports to communities hundreds of miles inland — bringing with them health, environmental and economic burdens. Cleaning up our shipping lanes will be a boon to communities across North America.”

EPA estimates that, enforcement of the new ECA standards will reduce sulfur content in marine fuel by 98 percent – slashing particulate matter emissions by 85 percent, and nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions by 80 percent. EPA further estimates that, as a result of the cleaner air, nearly five million people will experience relief from acute respiratory symptoms in 2020 and as many as 14,000 lives will be saved annually.

Endorsing the stringent ECA standards adopted by the IMO, the Natural Resources Defense Council, stated that “communities up and down the Atlantic, Pacific and Gulf Coasts will feel the air quality improvements – and the benefits will even extend hundreds of miles inland, reaching as far away as Nevada, Tennessee, Pennsylvania and the Grand Canyon.”

Categories: Clean Air