The Environmental Protection Agency today announced the next steps in a coordinated strategy to slash harmful emissions from ocean-going vessels. EPA is proposing a rule under the Clean Air Act that sets tough engine and fuel standards for U.S. flagged ships that would harmonize with international standards and lead to significant air quality improvements throughout the country.
“These emissions are contributing to health, environmental and economic challenges for port communities and others that are miles inland. Building on our work to form an international agreement earlier this year, we’re taking the next steps to reduce significant amounts of harmful pollution from getting into the air we breathe,” said EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson. “Lowering emissions from American ships will help safeguard our port communities, and demonstrate American leadership in protecting our health and the environment around the globe.”
The rule comes on the heels of a key part of EPA’s strategy, a proposal last March by the United States and Canada to designate thousands of miles of the two countries’ coasts as an Emission Control Area (ECA). The International Maritime Organization (IMO), a United Nations agency, begins consideration of the ECA plan this month, which would result in stringent standards for large ships operating within 200 nautical miles of the coasts of Canada and the United States.
Air pollution from large ships, such as oil tankers and cargo ships, is expected to grow rapidly in line with port traffic increases. By 2030, the domestic and international strategy is expected to reduce annual emissions of nitrogen oxides (NOx) from large marine diesel engines by about 1.2 million tons and particulate matter (PM) emissions by about 143,000 tons. When fully implemented, the coordinated effort would reduce NOx emissions by 80 percent and PM emissions by 85 percent compared to current emissions.
The emission reductions from the proposed strategy would yield significant health and welfare benefits that would span beyond U.S. ports and coastlines, reaching inland areas. EPA estimates that in 2030, this effort would prevent between 13,000 and 33,000 premature deaths, 1.5 million work days lost, and 10 million minor restricted-activity days. The estimated annual health benefits in 2030 as a result of reduced air pollution are valued between $110 and $280 billion at an annual projected cost of approximately $3.1 billion - as high as a 90-to-1 benefit-to-cost ratio.
The proposed rulemaking is designed to reflect the IMO’s stringent ECA standards and broader worldwide program. The rule adds two new tiers of NOX standards and strengthens EPA’s existing diesel fuel program for these ships. It represents another milestone in EPA’s decade-long effort to reduce pollution from both new and existing diesel engines under the National Clean Diesel Campaign.