Seattle, WA – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has announced new rules for curbing pollution from the largest oceangoing ships, to protect U.S. port cities from unhealthy smog conditions. It would make ships burn cleaner fuel or retrofit engines with emission controls, and would also limit production and sale of so-called “bunker fuel.” Comments from Sarah Burt, an attorney for Earthjustice, who has been involved in lawsuits to prompt the EPA to act on this issue.
Intro: Cleaner air for the Washington coast is a little closer to reality. The E-P-A is taking steps to require cleaner fuel for the largest ships in U-S waters. The high-sulfur marine fuel used in cargo and cruise ships emits the same types of pollution as coal-fired power plants. Starting in 2011, the E-P-A will require ships registered in the United States to have technology on-board to reduce those emissions, or burn cleaner fuel. But most ships aren’t registered in the U-S…so the rules only cover about 10 percent of them. Sarah Burt, an attorney for Earthjustice, says the agency could be much tougher.
|Cut 145098 :16 "The EPA has authority to regulate all ships that come into U.S. ports and waters. And so, EPA could have applied these standards to all ships that emit pollutants, in the United States. And that’s what we have been encouraging EPA to do."|
Suggested Tag: Burt says the new rules aren’t more stringent because the agency doesn’t want to put American shipping companies at a disadvantage compared to competitors registered in other countries, where the pollution standards are lax. The E-P-A also has already exempted about 400 older steamships from having to comply.
Alternate Cut: Sarah Burt is an attorney for Earthjustice who represents groups that have been trying to get the E-P-A to make these rules since the mid-1990s. She says asthma and other chronic conditions are worse in busy port areas because of the smog created by burning what is commonly known as "bunker fuel."
|Cut 155098 :16 "After all the petroleum products have been refined out, it’s the sludge that remains – really heavy, really contaminated stuff. (:07) And they’ve been using this for a long time, even though engines of all other classes have been forced to run on distillate fuel or diesel."|
Alternate Tag: The agency says it will also limit the production and sale of bunker fuel in the U.S. Burt says the E-P-A is asking the International Maritime Organization, which serves as a sort-of United Nations for the shipping industry, to approve the rules. The I-M-O meets again in March.