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Marine Log

April 28 2008

Senate panel passes MARPOL Annex VI measure

The Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee last week approved legislation cosponsored by Committee Vice Chairman Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) to amend the Maritime Pollution (MARPOL) Act. The "MARPOL Annex VI Implementation Act of 2008" (H.R. 802), would amend the "MARPOL Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships" by requiring the U.S. Coast Guard and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to administer and enforce vessel air emission standards.

This amendment would allow the Coast Guard to enforce air emissions standards on all vessels in the navigable waters of the United States, all vessels departing from or inbound to a U.S. port, and vessels that are a party to the convention operating within the United States Exclusive Economic Zone.

"In Alaska, close to 90 percent of the state's consumer goods arrive through the port of Anchorage. Unfortunately, these same vessels currently comprise one of the world's largest uncontrolled sources of air pollution," said Senator Stevens. "This amendment strikes the right balance between strengthening our environmental protections while preserving the navigational freedoms critical to our national security interest and is consistent with international law."

The "MARPOL Annex VI Implementation Act of 2008" would:

require U.S. vessels and foreign vessels that are party to the MARPOL convention and bound for or operating in the U.S. territorial sea, in emission control areas to comply with vessel air emission regulations that are issued by the Coast Guard and EPA;

require the Coast Guard and the Administrator of the EPA to prescribe regulations to carry out Annex VI to the MARPOL Convention;

require that each vessel greater than 400 gross tons and each offshore terminal be issued an International Air Pollution Prevention Certificate to certify that the equipment in the vessel is in compliance with all applicable requirements under MARPOL Annex VI;

require the Secretary of the department in which the Coast Guard is operating, and the EPA Administrator, to jointly prescribe regulations that require ports and terminals to provide or ensure the availability of adequate reception facilities for ozone depleting substances, equipment containing such substances, and exhaust cleaning residues; and

authorize the Coast Guard to carry out inspections to verify that vessels are in compliance with requirements under MARPOL Annex VI and to carry out enforcement actions for violations of such requirements and regulations consistent with international law.

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