New Law Controls Shipping Emissions Along North American Shores

A new law is going into effect that begins to rein in one
of the dirtiest fuels used on the planet, bunker fuels used to power ships.

Under a new Emission Control Area (ECA) imposed by the
International Maritime Organization (IMO) on Aug. 1, 2012, ships will now have
to reduce emissions within 200 nautical miles of North America.

The new law will prevent tons of harmful pollutants
caused by bunker fuels from entering the atmosphere from ships’ smokestacks.

Thousands of times dirtier than diesel truck fuel, bunker
fuel contains air pollutants like particulates and smog-forming compounds that
significantly impact the health of coastal communities and that can travel hundreds
of miles inland as well. When bunker fuel is spilled, it is almost impossible to
clean up and has extremely destructive effects on oceans and the marine
life that depends on those waters.

The new ECA designation brings the ocean waters of North America
into an international control program. The ECA requires ships to use fuel with
a sulfur content of 1.0 percent or less, or to use equally effective means, to
reduce harmful air emissions — with even more stringent, cleaner fuel
requirements beginning in 2015.

"With the implementation of the North American Emission
Control Area, large ships will no longer be allowed to recklessly pollute our
air, destroy coastal habitats and harm the health of our communities," says
John Kaltenstein, marine program manager at Friends of the Earth U.S. "Friends
of the Earth has been working for more than a decade to end deadly and
unregulated pollution from the shipping industry, one of the last industries to
be brought under pollution control laws."

The global shipping sector accounts for nearly 3% of
global carbon dioxide emissions. The EPA estimates that the new
ECA will prevent between 12,000 and 31,000 premature deaths each year across
the US and save billions of dollars in healthcare costs by 2030.

"Every dollar
invested in cleaner ships avoids more than $30 in health costs, thanks to
reduced asthma, cancer and heart disease," says Rich Kassel, a consultant to
the Natural Resources Defense Council and a member of the U.S. delegation that
secured the ECA. "With economic and public health benefits like these, it’s
easy to see why there has been broad bi-partisan support for creating the
Emission Control Area."

Even as the ECA takes effect, the cruise industry is lobbying
Congress and the Obama administration to let it sidestep the rules, by creating
rules that would exempt cruise ships in less populated areas such as Alaska or
Hawaii.

The industry claims that it will otherwise have to avoid
North American waters to comply, because the more efficient fuel to meet the
regulation and the equipment to run it will cost too much money.

"The shipping industry, including the cruise lines, fully
participated in the IMO’s five years of deliberations on the treaty amendments
that included the current ECA protections and the adoption of the North
American ECA itself," says David Marshall, Senior Counsel with the Clean
Air Task Force and a participant in those negotiations. "The cruise line
industry has had several years to prepare for its requirements, but instead is
mounting an 11th hour effort to convince Congress and EPA to adopt proposals
that would violate the international treaty that the United Stated has ratified
and is bound by."

Friends of the Earth, the Natural Resources Defense
Council and Clean Air Task Force are calling on the EPA and Obama
administration to stand by their support of the ECA.

The cruise industry is notorious for its unregulated
emissions
and garbage disposal. Some like Norwegian
Cruise Lines
, which introduced carbon offsets last year, are trying to slow
change some of their business practices. In addition, the IMO has agreed to enforce stronger energy efficiency
standards for new ships beginning in 2013
.

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