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The United States Environmental Protection Agency, or EPA, is taking another step in a coordinated strategy to reduce harmful emissions from ocean-going vessels. EPA is proposing a rule under the Clean Air Act that sets tough engine and fuel standards for U.S. flagged ships that would harmonize with international standards and lead to significant air quality improvements throughout the U.S. Enacted in 1970 and significantly amended in 1990, the Clean Air Act defines EPA's responsibilities for protecting and improving the nation's air quality and stratospheric ozone layer.
"These emissions are contributing to health, environmental and economic challenges for port communities and others that are miles inland," said EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson. "Building on our work to form an international agreement earlier this year, we're taking the next steps to reduce significant amounts of harmful pollution from getting into the air we breathe. Lowering emissions from American ships will help safeguard our port communities, and demonstrate American leadership in protecting our health and the environment around the globe," she said.
The EPA proposed rule follows an initiative in March 2008 by the United States and Canada to designate thousands of miles of the two countries' coasts as an Emission Control Area. The International Maritime Organization, a United Nations agency, begins consideration of the Emission Control Area plan this month, which would result in stringent standards for large ships operating within 200 nautical miles of the coasts of Canada and the United States.
Air pollution from large ships is expected to grow rapidly in line with port traffic increases. By 2030, the domestic and international strategy is expected to reduce annual emissions of nitrogen oxides from large marine diesel engines by about 1.09 million metric tons and particulate matter emissions by about 130,000 metric tons. When fully implemented, the coordinated effort would reduce nitrogen oxide emissions by 80 percent and particulate matter emissions by 85 percent compared with current emissions.
EPA's proposed rule is designed to reflect the International Maritime Organization's stringent Emission Control Area standards and broader worldwide program. The rule adds two new tiers of nitrogen oxide standards and strengthens EPA's existing diesel fuel program for these ships. It represents another milestone in EPA's decade-long effort to reduce pollution from both new and existing diesel engines. Improved air quality is an achievable goal and the United States is committed to achieving it.