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EPA, U.S. Coast Guard Cracking Down On Vessel Pollution

Posted on June 28, 2011

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Coast Guard signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to jointly enforce U.S. and international air pollution requirements for vessels operating in U.S. waters.

The requirements establish limits on nitrogen oxides (NOx) emissions and require the use of fuel with lower sulfur content, protecting people’s health and the environment by reducing ozone-producing pollution, according to the EPA. The most stringent requirements apply to ships operating within 200 nautical miles of the coast of North America.

The large marine diesel engines that provide propulsion and auxiliary power on many ocean-going vessels emit significant amounts of pollution, the EPA said. Without further action, the EPA estimates that, by 2030, NOx emissions from ships will more than double, growing to 2.1 million tons per year. Enforcing federal and international laws could prevent 12 000 to 31 000 premature deaths annually by 2030, the EPA said. Under the MOU, both the U.S. Coast Guard and EPA will perform inspections and investigations, taking enforcement actions if a violation is detected.

A letter to industry was also signed by the agencies to provide the regulated community with notice that EPA and U.S. Coast Guard will be taking measures to promote compliance with federal and international air pollution requirements and will be actively pursuing violations.

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