The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

John Kaltenstein, (831) 334-2470,
Howard Breen, (250) 508-5818,

US and Canada Seek International Approval of Air Pollution Reduction Zone for Ships

Coastal Emission Control Area Would Be Boon to Public Health and the Environment; However Canadian and Alaskan Arctic Waters Not Included


U.S. EPA Administrator Lisa
Jackson announced today during a noon conference at Port Newark, New Jersey,
its submission of an Emission Control Area application to the International
Maritime Organization. If the application is successful, it would require
steep pollution reductions from large ships in U.S. and Canadian coastal

Toxic air pollution from ships is
a major public health concern for U.S. and Canadian residents, especially those
living near ports and heavily trafficked coastal corridors. In North
America, approximately 8,800 people die annually from these harmful emissions,
and these deaths and additional adverse health impacts will continue to rise if
strong regulations, such as those proposed today, are not put in place. Ship
emissions are a major reason more than 40 major U.S. ports are out
of compliance with federal Clean Air Act requirements.

"Ships have escaped stringent regulation, while
landside emission sources such as trucks have faced increasingly strict controls,"
said John Kaltenstein, Clean Vessels Campaign Manager at Friends of the
Earth. "Large ships in the United States
were responsible for over a million tons of pollutants in 2007 and, if no
changes are made, will produce nearly four million tons of air pollution in
2030. The protections proposed today are absolutely
crucial to protect millions of residents against debilitating illnesses and
premature death."

If established, this Emission Control Area will force
large ships frequenting U.S. and Canadian ports to use progressively cleaner
fuel. Presently most ships burn dirty bunker fuel to generate
power. This viscous, asphalt-like substance is high in sulfur and heavy
metals. The Emission Control Area would reduce sulfur oxides and particulate
matter from large ships by 86 percent and 74 percent, respectively. A
decrease in sulfur content would reduce harmful particulate matter pollution
known to cause respiratory ailments, cancer, heart conditions, and premature
mortality, as well as sulfur oxide emissions, which lead to haze and acid

"This joint request is an important signal of
cooperation between Canada and the United States in the interest of protecting
public health and the environment from shipping emissions. However, it is
a starting point-not an end point. Ships are currently burning fuel
1800 times dirtier than diesel trucks and the Emission Control Area would
achieve a sulphur reduction to 0.1 percent-still 66 times dirtier than
ultra low diesel," said Beatrice Olivastri, CEO of Friends of the Earth
Canada. "We want continuous reductions as well as details on
enforcement plans by authorities."

"Despite this laudable step by the United States and
Canada, waters of the Aleutian Islands, Western Alaska, and the Canadian and
Alaskan Arctic should have been included in this joint application for
environmental and public health reasons. We continue to support their
near-term inclusion and look forward to working with both governments on this
important issue," said Kaltenstein.

The application can be viewed at

Friends of the Earth fights for a more healthy and just world. Together we speak truth to power and expose those who endanger the health of people and the planet for corporate profit. We organize to build long-term political power and campaign to change the rules of our economic and political systems that create injustice and destroy nature.

(202) 783-7400