The Seattle Port Commission today passed a resolution endorsing the U.S. government’s proposal for more stringent international rules for ocean-going vessels.

“We are taking action locally to make sure our seaport operations are the cleanest possible, while supporting more stringent national and international regulatory standards,” said Commission President John Creighton. He noted conversions to cleaner fuels, engines and operating practices by the Port and its main customers, environmental restoration of polluted sites, and other initiatives. But he said some environmental improvements have to happen on an international basis, and that’s why the commission endorsed U.S. proposals to the International Maritime Organization.

“Changes of this sort will improve environmental conditions at ports all over the world,” Creighton said, “and will make sure we all compete on a level playing field.”

The Port joins a number of other industry partners in this effort, including the Pacific Merchant Shipping Association, the World Shipping Council and the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency. The Port is currently engaged with the Ports of Tacoma and Vancouver, B.C. to develop a common set of standards for air-emissions reductions in all three Northwest ports.

The U.S. recommendation calls for:

n      Strict new emission limits for particulate matter and oxides of sulfur, beginning in 2011 and 2012.

n      Limits for oxides of nitrogen to achieve a 15 to 25 percent reduction beginning in 2011, and further limits in certain areas to achieve 80 percent reductions beginning in 2016. These would apply to new engines.

n      Limits for oxides of nitrogen on engines built before Jan. 1, 2000 that would achieve a 20 percent reduction. These standards would phase in beginning in 2010 and 2012.

“This effort is just part of our long-term strategy to become the cleanest port in America,” said CEO Tay Yoshitani. “We have a strong, comprehensive record on environmental initiatives, and we want to be among the leaders in our industry on developing the operating standards of the future.”