EPA to examine exempting ships with sub-32,000 hp engines from ECA sulphur limit

Follows Senate Committee 'concern' that ECA limit could result in shippers shifting to higher-emitting modes of transport.

Image credit: Pixabay CC0

Updated on 12 Jul 2018 09:45 GMT

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is due to hold a public workshop in Washington D.C., on July 30, to engage businesses, local communities and interested citizens in the development of a study of the impacts of the North American Emission Control Area (ECA) on coastal shipping.

The study follows Senate Report 114-281, from June 16, 2016, in which members of the Senate Committee were described as being "concerned the mandate for fuel with a sulfur content of 0.1% in the North American Emission Control Area is having a disproportionately negative impact on vessels which have engines that generate less than 32,000 horsepower [and] this impact may cause some shippers to shift from marine[-]based transport to less efficient, higher[-]emitting modes [of transport]".

As a result, "to avoid negative environmental consequences and modal shifting, the Committee directs the [Environmental Protection] Agency to consider exempting vessels with engines that generate less than 32,000 horsepower and operate more than 50 miles from the coastline".

In response to the Committee's concerns, the EPA says it intends to perform a study of the North American ECA's economic impact on coastal shipping.

The study is to be based on the approach used by the EPA for a similar study carried out in 2012, which examined the effect of the 0.1 percent sulphur limit on the Great Lakes shipping industry.

The Great Lakes study used a combination of geospatial transportation route modelling and cost modelling to examine the impacts of the ECA fuel sulphur requirements for a specific set of transportation routes identified by stakeholders as being at risk for transportation mode shift.

The EPA says input from coastal transportation industry stakeholders and other industries involved in alternative transportation modes will be "essential" to identify the transportation routes to be studied - i.e. the routes that may be at risk of transportation mode shift as a result of increased operating costs due to the use of ECA-compliant fuel.

Stakeholder input also will be important for essential data, including ship characteristics, the Agency notes.

The workshop is scheduled to be held on July 30, from 10:00 to 15:00 hrs (local time), at the William Jefferson Clinton East Building, Room 1153, 1200 Pennsylvania Avenue, Washington DC, 20460.

At the meeting, the EPA says it will explain the purpose of the economic impact study, describe the methodology that was used for a similar study of the impacts of ECA compliance on the Great Lakes, and explain the methodology that will be applied to this study of the economic impact of ECA fuel sulphur limit on US coastal marine transportation.

The EPA will also describe the data needs of the study, how interested stakeholders can help the EPA obtain that data, and the EPA's procedures to ensure the protection of confidential business information.