The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Sarah Burt, Earthjustice, 510-550-6755

US EPA Proposes to Slash Harmful Ship Emissions, Leaves out Arctic Protections

Earthjustice Statement


At a joint news
conference with the Coast Guards and New Jersey elected official, EPA
administrator Lisa Jackson announced today that the USA has became the
first country to ask the International Maritime Organization to create
an emissions
control area (ECA) around the nation's coastline.

According to the EPA's press release:

"The creation of an ECA would save up to 8,300 American and
Canadian lives every year by 2020 by imposing stricter standards on oil
tankers and other large ships that spew harmful emissions into the air
near coastal communities where tens of millions of
Americans live, work, play and learn. The United States is proposing a
230-mile buffer zone around the nation's coastline in order to provide
air quality benefits as far inland as Kansas."

However, EPA has not extended the protection of the buffer zone to
Alaska's Arctic waters. Earthjustice, on behalf of a coalition of
environmental and indigenous organizations has asked EPA to amend the
application to include this fragile marine ecosystem.

Sarah Burt, an attorney with Earthjustice's international law program, said:

By initiating this process, EPA has
taken an important step forward in protecting the health of port
communities and the coastal environment from harmful ship pollution.
However, by failing to include most of the waters off
the coast of Alaska, EPA has left a gaping hole in the nation's
environmental and human health protections.

In addition to the impacts of ship
pollution on human health and the environment, emissions from
ocean-going vessels are important contributors to the accelerated
global warming that is occurring in Alaska and throughout the

Ship traffic and the resulting
emissions of air pollutants in Alaskan waters are anticipated to rise
dramatically in the near future as the melting of sea ice opens new
shipping lanes from Asia to Europe and North America.
It is essential that standards to limit the emissions of harmful
pollutants from ocean-going vessels be in place to protect Alaskan
communities and the environment before this increase in ship traffic
occurs. It is unfathomable that EPA would take this strong
action to protect US waters and omit the Alaskan Arctic from these

Below is the letter submitted on March 27 to EPA by Earthjustice
on behalf of Alaska Wilderness League, Audubon Alaska, Center for
Biological Diversity, Defenders of Wildlife, Friends of the Earth,
Indigenous Environmental Network, Pacific Environment,
Resisting Environmental Destruction on Indigenous Lands (REDOIL), and
with the support of Oceana and the Ocean Conservancy.

Background facts about ship emissions

Earthjustice is a non-profit public interest law firm dedicated to protecting the magnificent places, natural resources, and wildlife of this earth, and to defending the right of all people to a healthy environment. We bring about far-reaching change by enforcing and strengthening environmental laws on behalf of hundreds of organizations, coalitions and communities.