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Contact: Erin Dhand, Manager, Corporate Communications and Community Affairs
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SCSPA Applauds Ship Emissions Bill

Environmental and industry groups, including the South Carolina State Ports Authority, are celebrating legislation passed yesterday in the U.S. Congress that will lead to reduced vessels emissions on the world's oceans and coasts.

The Senate passed H.R. 802, which will implement Annex VI of MARPOL, an international maritime pollution treaty, and will provide air quality benefits for port communities in countries that are signatories to the global treaty. Annex VI establishes emission limits for oxides of nitrogen (NOx), oxides of sulfur (SOx) and other air pollutants from ships.

However, the U.S. was not previously a signatory to the treaty. Passage of the bill could allow the U.S. to vote on proposed changes. The EPA has proposed sweeping changes to the International Maritime Organization (IMO), the agency responsible for improving safety and preventing pollution from ships. Under the EPA proposal, the industry would adopt more stringent vessel emission requirements as part of MARPOL Annex VI, an international maritime pollution treaty. In April, the IMO's Maritime Protection Committee approved sweeping new limits for sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide emissions and a timetable for their introduction. The guidelines are set for final approval in October.

Recognizing that ocean-going vessels are a key source of port-related air pollution, the SCSPA has been actively working on the national and international stage to support stringent new restrictions on air emissions for ships calling our coast. At its monthly Board meeting last November, the SCSPA unanimously passed a resolution supporting the Environmental Protection Agency's efforts to reduce emissions from vessels calling the United States.

SCSPA president and CEO Bernard S. Groseclose Jr. is a member of the American Association of Port Authorities' U.S. Legislative Policy Council and personally advocated support for the stricter standards at its meeting last fall. Groseclose is also 2nd vice president of the International Association of Ports and Harbors.

An international approach is obviously much better than unilateral action. Stringent global standards for ship air emissions will ensure consistency and meaningful reductions, which simply can't be accomplished through a hodgepodge of local or state regulations.

“We recognize that we can't do it alone,” said Byron Miller, public relations director for the SCSPA. “We must take a leadership role and join voices with regulators and industry leaders to make a concerted push.” Diverse groups such as the Environmental Defense Fund and the World Shipping Council have advocated passage of the bill.

While Charleston's air quality meets all federal and state standards, the SCSPA sees the opportunity now to press for stricter standards.

Beyond cleaner engines and fuel, the SCSPA has evaluated shoreside power technology to allow ships to plug in while at dock. Last fall the SCSPA hosted an International Organization for Standardization, or ISO, working group of three dozen shipping industry executives from Europe, Asia and the U.S. The working group is developing standards for alternative marine power, or allowing a ship to be plugged up to shore power while it is in port.

The vessel emissions and shore power efforts are part of the SCSPA's landside efforts, which includes a partnership with DHEC to reduce emissions. The goal of this partnership is to handle more cargo, but with less emissions. The SCSPA has moved to ultra-low sulfur diesel, the cleanest diesel fuel available, three years ahead of the federal requirement. The pilots and S.C. Public Railways have also moved to ULSD, and all SCSPA tenants will be using ULSD by September. Among other initiatives, the SCSPA is also funding a new air monitoring station, using cleaner engines and including air emissions reductions in its construction bid documents.