Thursday, January 28, 2010

CA Assembly: Resolution Calls for 200-Mile Strict Emission Control Zone for Ships

The California Assembly on Wednesday passed a resolution to support the creation of a new standard for oceangoing vessel emissions within 200 miles of the California coast.

The resolution, introduced by Assemblywoman Bonnie Lowenthal (D-Long Beach) with more than 50 Assembly co-authors and approved 62-6, supports the establishment of a geographic zone along North America's coastlines where mandatory measures regarding emissions from ships would prevent, reduce, and control air pollution from nitrogen oxide, sulfur oxide and particulate matter emissions.

“In addition to environmental and air quality benefits, the creation of a North American [Emissions Control Area] is a positive step for California’s economy, as it will improve the competitive standing of California’s ports by applying the same environmental standards to other ports in the United States and Canada that are currently only in place in California,” said John McLaurin, president of the Pacific Merchant Shipping Association which represents more than 90 percent of the shipping lines and terminal operators servicing the United States West Coast.

Early last year, US and Canadian officials submitted a proposal to the International Maritime Organization, which sets international maritime law, for the designation of an Emission Control Area around their coastlines in which stringent international emission controls would apply to ocean-going ships.

The proposed ECA would include waters adjacent to the Pacific coast, the Atlantic and Gulf coasts and the eight main Hawaiian Islands. The proposed ECA would extend 200 nautical miles from the coastal baseline. The ECA, however, would not extend into any waters or land claimed by countries other than the US and Canada.

ECAs also feature more stringent emissions requirements for oceangoing vessels. According to the federal government, ECA standards could cut sulfur in vessel fuel by 98%, and achieve reductions of nitrogen oxides by 80 percent, particulate matter by 85 percent, and sulfur oxides by 95 percent, relative to current vessel emission levels