Tuesday, December 15, 2009

PMSA to Challenge CARB Low-Sulfur Vessel Fuel Rule Again

A leading shipping industry trade group will again challenge a California Air Resources Board requirement that ocean-going vessels use low-sulfur fuel within 24-miles of the California coast.

The Pacific Maritime Shipping Association, which represents roughly 90 percent of the shipping lines and terminal operators on the West Coast, filed the challenge to the state rule in the US Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit.

In 2008, CARB issued a rule attempting to achieve the same 24-mile-from-the-coast boundary for low-sulfur fuel use, but after only months of being in effect a PMSA legal challenge resulted in the rule being struck down by the court. However, the PMSA encouraged its members to continue using the low-sulfur fuel, which the majority did. Following the legal setback, CARB reworked the rule to avoid conflict with the previous legal ruling and reissued it.

Just as in the previous case, the PMSA argues that the state is still attempting to regulate international trade and has overstepped its legal authority. Previous legal rulings have determined that state authority only extends to the 3-mile-from-the-coast boundary and beyond this is under federal jurisdiction.

The PMSA believes that more effective standards for international vessels– which are governed by international treaties– should be developed at the national and international level.

The appeals court plans to take written testimony from both sides before issuing a ruling some time next year.