Thursday, March 26, 2009

This Report from the Environmental Protection Agency's Office of Inspector General (Report Report No. 09-P-0125), dated March 23, 2009, finds that while EPA has issued air emissions regulations for most port sources, EPA’s actions to address air emissions from large oceangoing vessels in U.S. ports have not yet achieved the goals for protecting human health.

The Clean Air Act (CAA) provides EPA with the authority to regulate emissions from oceangoing vessel engines when these emissions cause significant harm to human health. For over 14 years, EPA has acknowledged that human health has been significantly harmed by emissions from these sources. Thus far, EPA has only regulated nitrogen oxides emissions from U.S.-flagged vessels. EPA has chosen to defer taking a position on whether it has authority to regulate emissions from foreign-flagged vessels, although these vessels account for about 90 percent of all U.S. port calls. However, after many years, EPA’s efforts with the International Maritime Organization (IMO) have the potential to significantly reduce these emissions. In October 2008 the IMO adopted new international standards for oceangoing vessel engines and fuels. Still, EPA must work to establish Emissions Control Areas for U.S. ports if significant emissions reductions are to be realized from oceangoing vessels.

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