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US adopts new standards for large ships

New regulation sets new fuel and engine standards for large US-flagged vessels.

Updated on 23 Dec 2009 11:42 GMT

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has finalized a rule setting tough engine and fuel standards for large U.S.- flagged ships, a major milestone in the agency’s coordinated strategy to slash marine diesel emissions.

The rule, under the Clean Air Act, complements a key piece of EPA’s strategy to designate an emissions control area (ECA) for thousands of miles of U.S. and Canadian coasts. The International Maritime Organization (IMO) is set to vote in March 2010 on the adoption of the joint U.S.-Canada ECA, which would result in stringent standards for large foreign-flagged and domestic ships operating within the designated area.

The rule adds two new tiers of NOX standards and strengthens EPA’s diesel fuel program for affected ships. Further, the EPA said it worked with stakeholders and Members of Congress to ensure that the emission reductions are achievable "without compromising safety or the maritime economy".

Commenting on the new standards, the EPA said "This action 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."

Air pollution from large ships, such as oil tankers and cargo ships, is expected to grow rapidly as port traffic increases. By 2030, the EPA said 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, this coordinated effort will reduce NOX emissions from ships by 80 percent, and PM emissions by 85 percent, compared to current emissions," the EPA said.

“There are enormous health and environmental consequences that come from marine diesel emissions, affecting both port cities and communities hundreds of miles inland. Stronger standards will help make large ships cleaner and more efficient, and protect millions of Americans from harmful diesel emissions,” said EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson.

The emission reductions from the strategy are expected to yield significant health and welfare benefits that span beyond U.S. ports and coasts, reaching inland areas. The EPA estimates that in 2030, this effort will prevent between 12,000 and 31,000 premature deaths and 1.4 million work days lost. The estimated annual health benefits in 2030 as a result of reduced air pollution are valued between $110 and $270 billion, which is up to nearly 90 times the projected cost of $3.1 billion to achieve those results.

Related Links:

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