01 AUG 2007
Gard News 187 -
On 24th May 2007 Senator Barbara Boxer introduced, for herself and on behalf of California Senator Dianne Feinstein, Senate Bill 1499 “Marine Vessel Emissions Reduction Act of 2007”. This legislation, if enacted, would amend the Clear Air Act1 to include a limitation of 1,000 parts per million of sulphur in marine fuel for main and auxiliary engines. This is well below the MARPOL Annex VI standards, even for areas designated as SECAs. If enacted, the law would apply to all marine vessels including foreign flag vessels when operating within 200 miles of the US west coast and “within such distance of the east coast or Gulf coast of the United States, or the shoreline of the Great Lakes or St Lawrence Seaway, as the Administrator determines to be appropriate for the purpose of protecting the public health and the environment”. The “Administrator” in the context of this bill means the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which is responsible for regulation of air quality under the Clear Air Act.
In addition, the bill provides for the Administrator to promulgate regulations that establish standards for emissions of nitrous oxides, particulate matter, hydrocarbons and carbon monoxide for ships that enter and leave US ports.
The requirements have phase-in dates, with the sulphur compliance date set at 2010. There are also provisions which would allow the EPA to waive compliance dates if compliance proves “not technically feasible” by 31st December 2010.
The bill is not yet law. It must be approved by both houses of Congress and the president of the United States. The bill does indicate, however, the political importance of vessel source air pollution and a reluctance to rely on the international scheme, seen as insufficiently strict. On the positive side, federal law and regulation would mean uniformity within US waters and would prevent piecemeal enactments by individual states.