The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

John Kaltenstein, 831-334-2470,

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


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 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