U.S. EPA proposed strict new engine and fuel standards today for the largest ocean-bound ships, a move the agency says will dramatically reduce air pollution nationwide.
The proposal would add two tiers of standards to curb nitrogen oxide (NOx) pollution and tighten EPA's existing diesel fuel program for large ships.
"These emissions are contributing to health, environmental and economic challenges for port communities and others that are miles inland," Administrator Lisa Jackson said in a statement. "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."
The agency is proposing additional emission standards to curb NOx from new marine diesel engines. The near-term standards would take effect in 2011 and require more efficient use of engine technologies, resulting in a 15 percent to 25 percent NOx reduction. The proposed long-term standards would apply beginning in 2016 and would cut NOx pollution by 80 percent below current levels using more efficient pollution control technology, EPA estimates.
EPA is also proposing regulations for hydrocarbons and carbon monoxide from the largest new marine diesel engines. The agency is not proposing the regulation of particulate matter from these engines, but EPA says significant particulate reductions will occur through sulfur fuel requirements for ships operating along U.S. coastlines.
Additionally, EPA suggests changing the diesel fuel program to forbid the production and sale of marine fuel oil with sulfur concentrations higher than 1,000 parts per million along U.S. coasts and inland waterways.
The rule is a part of EPA's broader strategy to control ship emissions, according to the agency. In March, the United States and Canada asked the International Maritime Organization (IMO) to designate thousands of miles of the countries' coastlines as "emission control areas."
Under IMO rules, ships entering emission control areas will ultimately be required to cut NOx emissions by 80 percent, particulate matter by 85 percent and sulfur oxides by 95 percent, relative to current emissions levels. The IMO is expected to review the request at its July meeting, and the designation would go into effect in 2012 (Greenwire, March 30).
By 2030, the agency says its coordinated domestic and international strategy will slash annual NOx emissions in the United States by about 1.2 million tons and particulate matter emissions by about 143,000 tons. EPA estimates that the annual health benefits in 2030 will be between $110 billion and $280 billion compared with an annual projected cost of about $3.1 billion.
Click here to read the regulatory announcement.