Cruise Ship Pollution Law Suit
- from the Friends of the Earth Web Site
Green Groups Sue EPA over Ship Smokestack Pollution
September 05, 2007
For Immediate Release
Teri Shore, Friends of the Earth, 415-544-0790 ext. 19 (office),
707-583-4428 (cell), tshore@...
Sarah Burt, Earthjustice, 510-550-6700, sburt@...
Nick Berning, Friends of the Earth, 202-222-0748, nberning@...
Earthjustice and Friends of the Earth File Citizen Suit under Clean Air Act
Dirty fuel pollutes port cities, undermine local clean air efforts
WASHINGTON--Friends of the Earth, represented by lawyers from
Earthjustice, is suing the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for
failing to meet a deadline to regulate AIR POLLUTION FROM LARGE
SHIPs. EPA recently postponed indefinitely its commitment to set
emissions standards for ship engines. The suit was filed today
(9/5/2007) in federal district court.
The lawsuit and need for EPA action critical in California where the
courts stopped the state from imposing new clean fuels regulations on
ships calling on its ports.
Ocean-going vessels are among the largest mobile sources of air
pollution in the world. Smokestack emissions from the global shipping
fleet are projected to double in North America in the next decade,
exposing communities to diesel exhaust that contributes to
respiratory illness, cancer, heart disease, and premature death. The
ships burn dirty, asphalt-like bunker fuel that is thousands of times
dirtier than diesel used by trucks or trains, and most operate with
engines that pre-date even weak international standards.
"Air quality in port cities like Seattle and Oakland takes a beating
every time a large ship enters harbors from the sea," said Teri Shore
of Friends of the Earth (formerly Bluewater Network) in San
Francisco. "The Bush EPA promised to act months ago to rein in ship
smokestack pollution, but instead they have delayed regulations. Port
communities are fed up and suffering, that's why we went to court
"In Los Angeles alone, the ships in port spew more pollution than the
metro area's six million cars combined. Residents of nearby
neighborhoods have high rates of respiratory illness and the region's
highest cancer risk. We're taking action today to fix this health
hazard,"said Sarah Burt of Earthjustice.
Just one cargo or cruise ship in port can pollute as much as 350,000
cars, and major ports receive hundreds of ship calls a month, yet the
air pollution from large ships is one of the least addressed
environmental justice issues facing port communities nationwide. In
Seattle, Oakland, Los Angeles, Long Beach, and Houston, pollution
blows into neighborhoods where respiratory illness has become common.
The Clean Air Act requires EPA to establish regulations to reduce air
pollution from non-automobile engines that significantly contribute
to pollution in areas with poor air quality. EPA committed to the
April 2007 deadline to regulate ocean-going vessel emissions in a
2003 Final Rule approved by the Washington, DC, Circuit Court of
Appeals. This was in response to a previous lawsuit by Friends of the
Earth and Earthjustice challenging lack of agency action on pollution
from large ocean-going vessels.
In addition, EPA has failed to regulate pollution from
foreign-flagged ships, which comprise more that 80 percent of port
traffic from large ocean-going vessels, exempting them from meeting
the air quality standards required by U.S. law.
So far, the agency has relied on weak international standards that
provide no air quality benefits in U.S. waters, partly because many
of the ships operating here are registered in foreign countries that
are not party to the relevant international agreements. A review of
international standards was recently delayed by nearly two years.
Senator Barbara Boxer recently introduced the Marine Vessel Emissions
Act of 2007 (SB 1499) that would require cleaner fuels and engines in
all ocean-going vessels calling on U.S. ports. Congresswoman Hilda L.
Solis introduced the same legislation in the House of Representatives
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