CARB poised to adopt unworkable harbor craft regulations

Written by Marine Log Staff
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The California Air Resources Board (CARB) is poised to approve harbor craft engine emission regulations that, as drafted, appear deeply flawed.

The American Waterways Operators (AWO) is urging the board to reconsider the draft regulations.

AWO is deeply concerned that CARB’s proposed regulations, which could be adopted today,
mandate engine technology that is not available and is not certified as safe by the U.S. Coast Guard; impose an infeasible compliance schedule; and vastly underestimate the cost of compliance and financial impact the requirements will have on vessel owners, especially smaller companies.

If adopted today, the regulations will go into effect next year.

AWO argues that barge transportation produces 43% less greenhouse gas emissions than rail and more than 800% less than trucks, and companies across the industry are investing in technological innovations to build on these advantages and further reduce the industry’s environmental impact. The industry also has a long history of collaboration with CARB on air quality initiatives. An electric prototype tugboat is under construction and will be operating in San Diego next year, and several hybrid tugboats are already in use in California.

“The tugboat, towboat and barge industry is committed to taking bold action to address the environmental challenges of our time and welcomes opportunities to work with CARB and other stakeholders toward that goal,” said Jennifer Carpenter, AWO president and CEO. “Unfortunately, CARB’s proposal risks sidelining not only the most environmentally sustainable mode of freight transportation, but also an industry that has safely and reliably kept cargo moving during the pandemic and supply chain crisis of the past two years.”

Over the past three years, AWO and other harbor craft operators have made numerous attempts to work with CARB to explain the substantial flaws in the agency’s approach, and have also highlighted that the proposal is based on flawed data that overstates the number of harbor craft and the time these vessels spend in California regulated waters.

CARB’s virtual hearing will be held today, Thursday, March 24. The harbor craft rules are scheduled to be heard at 9:00 am PDT. Link to hearing.

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