The Santa Barbara County Air Pollution Control District (District) announced today that a federal court decision in September will leave international rules in place to reduce shipping emissions off the coast of North America. Said District Director Dave Van Mullem, “This decision is a win for clean air. Marine vessels traveling off our coast pollute our air, and these rules will cut this pollution.”
The District has been tracking air emissions from large ships traveling through the Santa Barbara Channel since 1994, calling for regulatory actions, and working on a range of initiatives to control these emissions.
The North American Emission Control Area (ECA) was established by the International Maritime Organization in 2011, and took effect in August of 2012. A range of rules covering engines and fuels used by large ships traveling up to 200 nautical miles off the North American coast are being phased in over time. The State of Alaska sued the U.S. Secretary of State, questioning the establishment of the North American ECA. The District, along with the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency and the South Coast Air Quality Management District, joined the lawsuit in support of the U.S.position that the ECA should remain in effect. If the court had heard the case and ruled in favor of Alaska, the pollution reductions associated with the ECA would have been undermined—not just for Santa Barbara County but for all of North America. However, the judge dismissed the case, leaving in place these international rules to reduce air pollution from marine shipping.
For more information, and to view the announcement from the South Coast Air Quality Management District, see this page on the District’s website: http://www.sbcapcd.org/100213rel.htm.