U.S. EPA moved closer yesterday to finalizing new engine and fuel standards for the largest ocean-bound ships by sending the draft rules to the White House for review.
If finalized, EPA says the draft rule would drastically cut air pollution nationwide by requiring vessels with large diesel engines to curb their nitrogen oxide and sulfur dioxide emissions. EPA is also proposing to forbid the U.S. production and sale of high-sulfur marine fuel (E&ENews PM, July 1).
The regulation is a part of the agency's broader strategy to control ship emissions. 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," a move that would tighten emission standards on foreign ships operating in those waters. The IMO is expected to review the request at its July meeting, and the designation would go into effect in 2012 (Greenwire, March 30).
EPA is under a legal deadline to finalize the rule by Dec. 17. The near-term standards for newly built engines would apply starting in 2011, and long-term standards would begin in 2016.
By 2030, the agency says its coordinated domestic and international strategy will slash annual nitrogen oxide 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.
Last month, the proposal became the center of a heated political debate when lawmakers inserted a controversial rider into an EPA spending bill to exempt 13 Great Lakes steamships from the pending rules and to allow EPA to extend waivers for other ships. House Appropriations Chairman David Obey (D-Wis.) backed the rider, along with Rep. James Oberstar (D-Minn.) and other lawmakers from the Great Lakes region (E&E Daily, Oct. 28).
Proponents argued that the amendment was aimed at preventing economic hardship in the Great Lakes states, while environmental groups and air regulators cautioned that such a measure could disrupt pending international negotiations over shipping emissions.
Click here to read the proposed rule.