US EPA continues push for tougher standards for large ships

02 July 2009 19:56  [Source: ICIS news]

HOUSTON (ICIS news)--A chemical tanker group largely supports tougher shipping standards proposed this week by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), an official with the group said on Thursday.

In a proposed update of the Clean Air Act, the EPA will set tougher engine requirements and fuel standards for large US-flagged vessels. The US agreed to such standards last year in a proposal with Canada that would designate much of the two countries' coastlines as an Emission Control Area (ECA).

Joe Angelo, deputy managing director of the chemical shipping group INTERTANKO, said the organisation largely supports the EPA because most of the rules were worked out last year in negotiations with Canada and the International Maritime Organization (IMO).

"We all kind of knew this was coming," Angelo said.

In July 2008, US President George W. Bush signed a bill clearing the deck for US ratification of an international treaty regulating emissions from large diesel-powered, ocean-going vessels.

The American Association of Port Authorities pushed for its passage because American authorities felt helpless in stopping foreign vessels from polluting.

The IMO, a United Nations agency, is scheduled to begin consideration of the ECA plan this month.

The EPA's latest proposal has drawn opposition from cruise and container lines, but INTERTANKO's only major problem is over the low-sulphur fuel that would be required for vessels within the 200-mile limit of the US and Canada coasts, Angelo said.

The US Coast Guard issued warnings in May that low-sulphur fuel could lead to propulsion failure if not tested, and it urged the shipping industry to improve fuel-switching safety.

Angelo said the shipping group is concerned over speculation there may not be enough of the low-sulphur fuel, but he said the Coast Guard's message is its main worry.

"Our bigger concern is the safety issue," Angelo said.

According to the EPA, the new requirements could reduce vessel nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions by 80% and particulate matter (PM) emissions by 85% in more than 20 years.

By 2030, the cost to the shipping industry of the anti-pollution measures will total $3.1bn (€2.2bn) annually and the estimated annual health benefits will be $110bn-$280bn, the EPA said.

($1 = €0.71)

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By: Lane Kelley
+1 713 525 2653



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