The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Kate Slusark, 212/727-4592

EPA to Clean Up Diesel Ship Pollution Nationwide

Obama Administration Will Use New Global Pact to Improve Air Quality in Port Communities


The Environmental Protection Agency today announced that it is
taking steps under a new global agreement to reduce ship pollution
within 200 miles of U.S. shores. Under the new proposal, U.S. and
foreign-flagged ships in this area will be required to use dramatically
cleaner fuel and more effective pollution controls for their engines.
Once implemented, the proposal will significantly improve air quality
in port communities, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council

Today's action comes on the heels of an
international agreement reached last year that adopted new emissions
standards for large diesel-fueled, ocean-going ships. Under this
agreement, nations can petition the International Maritime Organization
(IMO) to create "Emission Control Areas" off their coasts. In these
areas, large ships will have to use fuel that contains 98 percent less
sulfur than the current global cap and install pollution-cutting
equipment to reduce nitrogen oxides (NOx) by 80 percent, particulate
matter (PM) by 85 percent, and sulfur oxides (SOx) by 95 percent,
compared to current emissions levels.

A statement follows from Rich Kassel, Director of the Clean Fuels and Vehicles Project at the Natural Resources Defense Council:

diesel pollution from ships is a serious, but solvable, problem. EPA's
proposal is an important step towards curbing ship pollution on our

"Port communities around the nation have waited
for years to see coordinated federal action to reduce ship pollution in
their backyards. Cleaner ships will mean cleaner air for anybody who
lives downwind from our ports."


has been fighting to clean up air pollution in U.S. ports for years.
NRDC's 2004 report, "Harboring Pollution: Strategies to Clean Up U.S.
Ports," first identified ways to reduce the environmental impacts of
large ports. In New York and New Jersey, NRDC has been advocating to
reduce emissions from port facilities of the Port Authority of New York
and New Jersey. In California, NRDC spearheaded successful coalition
campaigns that are dramatically improving the air quality in and around
the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach and is adapting those successes
to the Port of Oakland. At the federal level, NRDC played a major role
in EPA's enactment of a 2008 regulation to reduce train and U.S. ship
pollution and advocated for the global agreement that enable today's
proposal for all ocean-going vessels.

Key Statistics:

  • Since
    1995, worldwide container growth has averaged more than 10 percent
    annually, and this is expected to continue. U.S. ports are projected to
    handle more than 60 million TEUs (twenty-foot equivalent units, the
    industry standard for measuring container volumes) in 2010, rising to
    more than 110 million TEUs in 2020. To handle this growth, every major
    U.S. port is planning to at least double their freight capacity - with
    many east coast ports expected to triple their volumes and some west
    coast ports expected to quadruple their volumes.
  • Out
    of 100 major U.S. ports where container ships dock, 40 are in
    metropolitan areas that do not meet federal air quality standards.
  • More
    than 87 million Americans live near ports that don't meet EPA's federal
    health standards for ozone or particulate matter, the key pollutants
    linked to dirty ship pollution. Many millions more live downwind, since
    the toxic particles can travel for hundreds of miles.
  • Ship
    emissions are projected to grow dramatically in relation to other
    pollution sources. In 2001, oceangoing vessels contributed only about
    six percent of transportation-related nitrogen oxide (NOx), 10 percent
    of particulate matter (PM), and roughly 40 percent of sulfur dioxide
    (SOx) to the nation's air pollution. Without further controls,
    pollution will increase to about 34 percent of NOx, 45 percent of PM,
    and 94 percent of SOx emissions by 2030.

NRDC works to safeguard the earth--its people, its plants and animals, and the natural systems on which all life depends. We combine the power of more than three million members and online activists with the expertise of some 700 scientists, lawyers, and policy advocates across the globe to ensure the rights of all people to the air, the water, and the wild.

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