Quantcast

Environmental Groups Defend EPA Rule Reducing Large Ship Pollution

Energy

Earthjustice

A coalition of environmental groups moved to intervene in a court case late yesterday to support a low-sulfur fuel requirement for ships in most U.S. waters, including southern Alaska. 

The state of Alaska filed suit in July against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. State Department. Alaska is challenging the application of the federal low-sulfur fuel standard in the state.

“Previously, the sulfur content of ship fuel was entirely unregulated,” said Sarah Burt, an Earthjustice attorney. “Without this rule, pollution from ships burning dirty fuels will continue to cause severe health problems in coastal communities such as asthma, heart disease and cancer. Alaska’s attempt to invalidate the rule is short-sighted and callous.”   

“Once again the State of Alaska has shown that it’s willing to sacrifice the health of its residents for the financial gain of wealthy corporations,” said Rebecca Noblin, Alaska director for the Center for Biological Diversity. “We’re intervening in this lawsuit because we want to keep dirty air out of Alaska.”

Ocean-going vessels with large marine diesel engines, such as container ships, tankers, freighters and cruise ships, are a significant source of air pollution in coastal states. In 2010, at the request of the U.S. and Canada, the International Maritime Organization designated North American waters as an Emissions Control Area, or ECA. With U.S. EPA’s rule implementing the ECA standards, ships are now required to control their air pollution in U.S. coastal waters by burning low-sulfur fuels. 

In response to the state of Alaska’s challenge to the low-sulfur requirement, Earthjustice is representing the Center for Biological Diversity, Friends of the Earth, Natural Resources Defense Council and the Environmental Defense Fund and filed to intervene in this case to defend the rule.   

Prior to the low-sulfur fuel rule, large ships burned heavy fuel oil—a by-product of refining crude oil—which emits large amounts sulfur oxide (SOx), nitrogen oxide (NOx), diesel particulate matter and other pollutants. Air pollution from ships is expected to grow significantly over the next two decades. EPA estimates that without improved regulation, SOx and NOx emissions from ships will more than double by 2030, growing to 1.4 million and 2.1 million tons a year, respectively, while annual particulate pollution will almost triple to 170,000 tons.

“Shippers, cruise lines, and national leaders worked together to create these clean air protections, which have been planned for years and are already in effect,” said Pamela Campos, an attorney with Environmental Defense Fund. “It makes no sense to step backwards to dirtier air.”

"The cruise industry's insistence on using filthy bunker fuel means that every single day an average cruise ship travels between Vancouver, BC and Alaska it emits the same amount of sulfur dioxide as 13 million cars,” said John Kaltenstein, marine program manager at Friends of the Earth. “That level of pollution is outrageous; the use of incredibly dirty fuel by ships near our coasts must stop now. The State of Alaska should be more concerned with protecting the health of its residents than pandering to the cruise industry, which makes billions of dollars a years, in part because of its outdated environmental practices."

Currently more than 30 major U.S. ports along the Atlantic, Gulf of Mexico and Pacific coasts are located in nonattainment areas for ozone and/or particulate pollution. The Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach have calculated that ocean-going vessels produce 59 percent of the total diesel particulate matter emissions in the area, 36 percent of the NOx emissions, and 90 percent of the SOx emissions. If Alaska were to succeed in its challenge, EPA’s rule could be invalidated nationwide.

“NRDC worked for years to make less-polluting ship fuel a reality,” said David Pettit, director of the Southern California air program at Natural Resources Defense Fund. “We need to support the Emissions Control Area that will be in place off our coastline in 2015."

Earthjustice and its clients have been involved for more than a decade in the establishment of more stringent international standards to control pollution from ships, and have engaged in litigation under the Clean Air Act to compel EPA to act to protect U.S. air quality from ship pollution.  

Visit EcoWatch’s CLEAN AIR ACT page for more related news on this topic.

 

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Micromobility is the future of transportation in cities, but cities and investors need to plan ahead to avoid challenges. Jonny Kennaugh / Unsplash

By Carlo Ratti, Ida Auken

On the window of a bike shop in Copenhagen, a sign reads: Your next car is a bike.

Read More Show Less
An American flag waves in the wind at the Phillip Burton Federal Building in San Francisco, California on May 17 where a trial against Monsanto took place. Alva and Alberta Pilliod, were awarded more than $2 billion in damages in their lawsuit against Monsanto, though the judge in the case lowered the damage award to $87 million. JOSH EDELSON / AFP / Getty Images

By Carey Gillam

For the last five years, Chris Stevick has helped his wife Elaine in her battle against a vicious type of cancer that the couple believes was caused by Elaine's repeated use of Monsanto's Roundup herbicide around a California property the couple owned. Now the roles are reversed as Elaine must help Chris face his own cancer.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Butterfly habitats have fallen 77 percent in the last 50 years. Pixabay / Pexels

The last 50 years have been brutal for wildlife. Animals have lost their habitats and seen their numbers plummet. Now a new report from a British conservation group warns that habitat destruction and increased pesticide use has on a trajectory for an "insect apocalypse," which will have dire consequences for humans and all life on Earth, as The Guardian reported.

Read More Show Less
Six of the nineteen wind turbines which were installed on Frodsham Marsh, near the coal-powered Fiddler's Ferry power station, in Helsby, England on Feb. 7, 2017.

Sales of electric cars are surging and the world is generating more and more power from renewable sources, but it is not enough to cut greenhouse gas emissions and to stop the global climate crisis, according to a new report from the International Energy Agency (IEA).

Read More Show Less
"Globally, we're starting to see examples of retailers moving away from plastics and throwaway packaging, but not at the urgency and scale needed to address this crisis." Greenpeace

By Jake Johnson

A Greenpeace report released Tuesday uses a hypothetical "Smart Supermarket" that has done away with environmentally damaging single-use plastics to outline a possible future in which the world's oceans and communities are free of bags, bottles, packaging and other harmful plastic pollutants.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Children are forced to wear masks due to the toxic smoke from peat land fires in Indonesia. Aulia Erlangga / CIFOR

By Irene Banos Ruiz

Pediatricians in New Delhi, India, say children's lungs are no longer pink, but black.

Our warming planet is already impacting the health of the world's children and will shape the future of an entire generation if we fail to limit global warming to well below 2 degrees Celsius (35.6°F), the 2019 Lancet Countdown Report on health and climate change shows.

Read More Show Less
Private homes surround a 20 inch gas liquids pipeline which is part of the Mariner East II project on Oct. 5, 2017 in Marchwood, Penn. Robert Nickelsberg / Getty Images

The FBI is looking into how the state of Pennsylvania granted permits for a controversial natural gas pipeline as part of a corruption investigation, the AP reports.

Read More Show Less
Three cows who were washed off their North Carolina island by Hurricane Dorian have been found alive after swimming at least two miles. Carolina Wild Ones / Facebook

Three cows who were washed off their North Carolina island by Hurricane Dorian have been found alive after swimming at least two miles, The New York Times reported Wednesday.

Read More Show Less