From: Andy Soos, ENN
Published December 24, 2009 12:04 PM

EPA Curbs Ship Emissions

The US EPA has finalized a rule setting tough engine fuel standards for large US flagged ships, a major milestone in the agency’s coordinated strategy to slash harmful marine diesel emissions. The regulation harmonizes with international standards and will lead to significant air quality improvements throughout the country.

"There are enormous health and environmental consequences that come from marine diesel emissions, affecting both port cities and communities hundreds of miles inland. Stronger standards will help make large ships cleaner and more efficient, and protect millions of Americans from harmful diesel emissions," said EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson. "Port communities have identified diesel emissions as one of the greatest health threats facing their people especially their children. These new rules mark a step forward in cutting dangerous pollution in the air we breathe and reducing the harm to our health, our environment, and our economy."


Air pollution from large ships, such as oil tankers and cargo ships, will grow rapidly as port traffic increases. By 2030, the present domestic and international strategy is expected to reduce, from present levels, annual emissions of nitrogen oxides (NOX) from large marine diesel engines by about 1.2 million tons and particulate matter emissions by about 143,000 tons.

When fully implemented, this coordinated effort will reduce NOX emissions from ships by 80 percent, and particulate emissions by 85 percent, compared to current emissions.

There are two types of diesel engines used on ocean-going vessels: main propulsion and auxiliary engines. The main propulsion engines on most ocean-going vessels are very large.

Auxiliary engines on ocean-going vessels typically range in size from small portable generators to locomotive-size engines with power of 4,000 kilowatts or more. Auxiliary engines on US flagged ocean-going vessels are subject to EPA’s marine diesel engine standards for engines with per-cylinder displacement up to 30 liters per cylinder.

The emission reductions from the strategy will yield significant health and welfare benefits that go well beyond the US port where the vessel is located. Less air emissions at the port will mean less emissions downwind of the port.

EPA estimates that in 2030, this effort will prevent between 12,000 and 31,000 premature deaths and 1.4 million work days lost. The estimated annual health benefits in 2030 as a result of reduced air pollution are valued between $110 and $270 billion, which is up to nearly 90 times the projected cost of $3.1 billion to achieve those results.

This rule, under the Clean Air Act, complements a key piece of EPA’s strategy to designate an emissions control area for thousands of miles of US and Canadian coasts.

The International Maritime Organization (IMO), a United Nations agency, is set to vote in March 2010 on the adoption of the joint U.S.-Canada emissions control area, which would result in stringent standards for all large foreign-flagged as well as domestic ships operating within the designated area.

The rule adds new lower NOX standards and strengthens EPA’s diesel fuel program for affected ships. The intent was to reduced air emissions without compromising safety or the maritime economy.

This action represents another milestone in EPA’s decade-long effort to reduce pollution from both new and existing diesel engines. This effort includes similar emissions from other diesel fueled engines including passenger cars, trucks and other internal combustion engines.

More information on the rule and coordinated strategy:

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