EDF Joins EPA in Announcement of Historic U.S. Action to Protect Americans from Deadly Global Shipping Pollution
Fuel from Sea-Going Vessels Is Major Source of Air Pollution at 100+ U.S. Port Cities, New EDF Report Shows
An Emission Control Area, or ECA, would provide the strongest clean air standards available under international law. It would dramatically improve fuel quality and reduce smog-forming oxides of nitrogen for all ocean-going ships in the exclusive economic zone of
“Ships are floating smokestacks that deliver soot and smog straight to the heart of our most crowded coastal cities, home to 87 million Americans,” said
Earlier today, EDF released a new report showing that the container ships, tankers and other large sea-going vessels that dock at more than 100 U.S. port cities burn low grade “residual fuel” or “bunker fuel” that is a major source of air pollution. More than 87 million Americans live in ports and coastal communities that fail to meet basic federal health standards for ground-level ozone and particulate pollution, according to EDF’s report, “Protecting American Health from Global Shipping Pollution: Establishing An Emission Control Area in U.S. Waters” (The full report is at: www.edf.org/article.cfm?contentID=8611.) The residual fuel contains sulfur levels 1,800 times greater than U.S. law allows for other diesel engines.
A recent study by two leading researchers on shipping pollution, Corbett and Winebrake, shows shipping-related particulate matter emissions contribute to approximately 60,000 global deaths annually, with impacts concentrated in coastal regions on major trade routes.
Most ship engines that are designed to run on bunker fuel also are capable of burning this cleaner fuel, so no significant ship changes or upgrades will be necessary. Additionally, the EPA has affirmed that the lower sulfur fuel required by an ECA will be available when the U.S. ECA goes into effect.
Within an ECA, ships must also achieve an 80 percent reduction in smog-forming oxides of nitrogen starting in 2016. EPA air quality analyses shows the pollution reductions required in an ECA will reduce exposure to lethal particulate pollution for millions of Americans.
“We urge the International Maritime Organization to promptly approve
Ocean-going ships contribute to unhealthy air quality across
- 745,000 tons of smog-forming oxides of nitrogen (NOx), a precursor to ground-level ozone. Ozone can aggravate asthma and decrease lung function in addition to other health effects;
- 450,000 tons of sulfur dioxide (SO2), a key contributor to acid rain that can also be transformed into lethal particulate matter; and
- 54,000 tons of fine particulates (PM2.5), microscopic sized particles, which can be breathed deep into the lungs, bypassing the body’s defense systems. They are implicated in thousands of premature deaths each year. Other harmful health effects also result from breathing fine particulates.
Ocean-going ships are responsible for about 3 percent of the world’s total greenhouse gas pollution, according to EDF’s report.
Environmental Defense Fund, a leading national nonprofit organization, represents more than 500,000 members. Since 1967, Environmental Defense Fund has linked science, economics, law and innovative private-sector partnerships to create breakthrough solutions to the most serious environmental problems. For more information, visit http://www.edf.org/.
SOURCE Environmental Defense Fund