EPA Issues Final Rule to Reduce Air Pollution from Ships

EPA Issues Final Rule to Reduce Air Pollution from Ships


John Kaltenstein, 831-334-2470, [email protected]

Prompted by Litigation from Friends of the Earth, EPA Issues Final Rule to Reduce Air Pollution from Ships

Friends of the Earth welcomes the rule, which resulted from a petition filed in 2000

WASHINGTON, DC — Nine years after Friends of the Earth filed a petition requesting more protective air pollution limits on large ships, and after two court battles in which Earthjustice represented Friends of the Earth, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today publicly released final air pollution standards for ships.  The coordinated strategy, which includes this rule, would reduce harmful air pollutants from shipping by 80 percent or more by 2030, preventing between 12,000 and 31,000 premature deaths.

The strategy, when implemented, will provide public health and environmental benefits. However, this particular rule applies only to smog-forming emissions from U.S. flagged ships, which make up just 10 percent of the vessels plying our waters.  The final rule relies on a separate internationally sanctioned procedure, called an Emission Control Area (ECA), to regulate foreign-flagged ships.  The ECA, which was proposed by the United States to protect air quality from all ships using U.S. waters, is moving through the International Maritime Organization’s regulatory approval process, but has not yet been adopted.  Under the rule, particulate emissions related to poor fuel quality will be addressed solely through this international mechanism.

“EPA’s rule, coupled with a successful international initiative, will provide a critical regulatory foundation.  But important gaps in the framework remain, and the EPA must work in the near future to reduce black carbon emissions from all vessels as well as smog-forming emissions from existing ships,” said John Kaltenstein, Marine Program Manager at Friends of the Earth.  “Additional measures will be needed to better protect human health and also avert dangerous climate impacts,” he added.

The final standards are in response to a petition filed in 2000 by Bluewater Network (at that time a project within the Earth Island Institute, and now part of Friends of the Earth). The petition alleged that EPA failed to regulate harmful air pollutants from large ships with diesel engines, including foreign-flagged vessels, in violation of the Clean Air Act.  In response, the EPA agreed to publish a rule proposing improved air pollution controls by 2003.  However, in 2003 EPA issued only a partial rule, stating that in 2007 it would set comprehensive standards.  Friends of the Earth twice filed suit to require action from EPA, most recently in 2007 when EPA again failed to meet its own deadline.

Friends of the Earth is the U.S. voice of the world’s largest grassroots environmental network, with member groups in 77 countries. Since 1969, Friends of the Earth has fought to create a more healthy, just world.

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