SACRAMENTO (February 5, 2007) -- The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and the Coalition for Clean Air (CCA) announced today their intent to join the legal battle to defend a state regulation limiting air pollution caused by ships docking at California’s ports.
The organizations petitioned the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California to intervene for the defense in a lawsuit by the Pacific Merchant Shipping Association (PMSA) challenging a regulation adopted by the California Air Resources Board (CARB) in 2005. CARB’s Auxiliary Engine Rule requires emission reductions from ship auxiliary engines used within 24 nautical miles of the California coast. Auxiliary engines generate electricity that is used to provide lighting, cooling and on-board power for navigation equipment.
“Air pollution from California ports will increase significantly as maritime trade grows over the next decade. That’s going to put our health at risk and undermine the hard work we’ve done to clean up the skies of Southern California,” said Melissa Lin Perrella, an attorney with NRDC’s Air Quality Program. “California has a right to protect its citizens by making sure they aren’t being poisoned by ships operating on our shores.”
Emissions from the freight transport industry in California cause 2,400 premature deaths, 360,000 lost workdays, and more than 1,000,000 school absences annually.
“Many of the ships calling in California run on some of the dirtiest fuels in the world. This important rule requires shipping companies to clean up their act when they are near California’s coastline,” said Thomas Plenys, research and policy manager for the Coalition for Clean Air.
The Auxiliary Engine Rule requires vessel operators to limit the emissions from auxiliary engines to levels similar to those registered when 5000-ppm sulfur fuel is used. The rule also allows CARB to require use of even cleaner fuels by 2010.
CARB estimates that between 2007 and 2020 the new rule will reduce particulate emissions by more than 23,000 tons, nitrogen oxides (NOx) by 15,000 tons, and sulfur oxides (SOx) by 200,000 tons -- preventing some 520 premature deaths.
“This rule will result in major improvements to the health of port-side communities; hundreds of lives will be saved and thousands of asthma attacks will be prevented,” said Diane Bailey, a scientist in NRDC’s Health Program.
The Auxiliary Engine Rule is one of the first in a series of rules that CARB plans to adopt to reduce pollution from marine vessels, including rules that will reduce emissions from marine vessel main engines and that will require ships to plug in to shore power rather than running their engines while docked.