July 23, 2008
Bush signs Marpol law
Here's one for the "what took them so long?" department.
On Monday, July 21, 2008, the President Bush signed into law H.R. 802, the "Maritime Pollution Prevention Act of 2008," which implements Annex Vi on the prevention of air pollution from ships of the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships,
EPA issued a statement noting that, with the president's signature, U.S. agencies are setting course to implement a key international agreement to reduce air pollution from large ships.
Under MARPOL Annex VI, EPA notes, ships must limit NOx emissions from their category three diesel engines. It also sets a cap on the sulfur content of the fuel they burn and includes a program for designating areas where more stringent fuel controls apply, such as near coastlines that have more severe air quality concerns.
This October, the parties to MARPOL will work to strengthen NOx and SO2 standards and the sulfur requirements in fuel. The amendments under review are consistent with the stringent and comprehensive proposal put forward by the U.S. Government. If adopted, these stronger international standards will yield significant environmental and public health benefits in the U.S. and around the world.
As foreign trade grows and EPA's new emissions controls take effect on other transportation sources, emissions from large ships comprise an increasing share of the nation's pollution inventory. In 2001, in terms of mobile sources, oceangoing vessels contributed nearly 6 percent of NOx, over 10 percent of PM2.5, and about 40 percent of SO2 to the nation's air pollution. Without further controls, those numbers will rise to about 34 percent of NOx, 45 percent of PM2.5, and 94 percent of SO2 emissions by 2030.
The president's signature of the act brings into statute Annex VI to the International Convention on the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (known as MARPOL). The U.S. Senate gave its formal advice and consent to Annex VI in 2006. The final step of the ratification process is for the President deliver a letter -- known as diplomatic instrument of ratification -- to the International Maritime Organization. The U.S. becomes a party three months later. MARPOL Annex VI entered into force beginning in May of 2005, although ships have met most provisions since 2000.