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Administrator Lisa P. Jackson, Remarks at the announcement on Emission Control Areas, As Prepared

03/30/2009
As prepared for delivery.

I’m proud to announce that last Friday, we submitted a proposal to the International Maritime Organization to designate our coastal waters as Emission Control Areas.

This is an important – and long overdue – step to protect the air and water along our shores, and the health of the people in our coastal communities.

I want to specially acknowledge the extraordinary contributions of Senator Barbara Boxer, who has led the way on this issue.

She and her staff have been hard at work for a long time to confront this issue. It was one of the key items she asked me to advance during my Senate confirmation hearings.

We’re all grateful today that her work on behalf of the people of California is making an important change that will serve all Americans.

Developing this plan took the collaboration of the EPA, Coast Guard, State Department, and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, as well as partnership of the Canadian government. I want to thank them for all they’ve done to make this possible.

Ports like this one drive both the global and local economies. As the world marketplace has grown, our ports have moved billions of dollars in raw materials and products, and created thousands of jobs.

But we’ve seen for some time that the constant traffic of ocean going vessels has brought with it some very serious challenges.

In this area alone, more than 6.5 million people are exposed to elevated concentrations of diesel fuel emissions.

This is only one of 150 major US ports along the Atlantic, the Great Lakes, up and down the Pacific coast, and on the Gulf of Mexico. And it’s just one of around 360 ports throughout the country.

About 40 of these ports are in areas that don’t meet federal air quality standards.

Cities that make their livelihoods from this industry are prone to suffer inordinately high rates of cancer, asthma, and other illnesses.

Children in these communities feel the effects of pollution in the air they breathe and the water they drink.

Residents and workers bear the brunt of harmful emissions and dangerous toxins.

And the greatest burden of the emissions from ocean going vessels falls disproportionately on low-income and minority households.

Some American ports are expecting to double or even triple their traffic in the coming years. Right now, it is important that we step up to protect human health and the environment.

Beginning in 2011, nitrogen oxide emissions will be cut by 20% from all new and existing vessels built since 1990. By 2016, all new engines will see a cut of 80%.

By 2015, sulfur emissions from fuel will be down 95%, and small particulate matter by 85%.

The Emission Control Areas will reach from the shores of the Gulf of Alaska, along Canada and down the coast of California.

On the east coast, the proposed ECA will start at the Northern tip of Newfoundland and Labrador, curve around the southern coast of Florida, and reach through the Gulf of Mexico to the southern tip of Texas.

The proposal will create a 200 mile buffer zone along our coasts – a distance of protection that will help air quality improvements reach as far inland as Kansas.

We’re proud to be working with local and international partners to develop the most effective possible plan.

We want to ensure that we are protecting the economic strength of our port cities at the same time that we take responsible steps to protect public health and the environment in the United States and across the globe.

I look forward to working with all of you in the months and years ahead.