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EPA Seeks to Cut International Ship Emissions

Release Date: 11/29/2007
Contact Information: Margot Perez-Sullivan, (202) 564-4355 / perezsullivan.margot@epa.gov

(Washington, D.C. - Nov. 29, 2007) Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency issued plans for new emission standards for diesel engines on board large ocean-going vessels. The advance notice of proposed rulemaking reflects the approach set out in the U.S. Government's recent proposal to the International Maritime Organization and would require the use of high-efficiency aftertreatment technology and lower sulfur marine fuels to reduce NOx and PM emissions.

"Diesel ships are a global economic workhorse. By advancing clean diesel technology, this economic workhorse can become an environmental workhorse," said EPA Administrator Stephen L. Johnson. "Working with the International Maritime Organization, EPA is reducing emissions from the shipping sector – making ports across the world harbors of cleaner air."

The advance notice of proposed rulemaking targets emissions from the largest marine diesel engines. These "Category 3" marine engines are used primarily for propulsion power on ocean-going vessels, such as container ships, tankers, cruise ships and bulk carriers. As foreign trade grows and new emissions controls take effect on other transportation sources, emissions from these ships comprise an increasing share of the nation's pollution inventory.

The approach described in both the domestic and international initiatives would consist of performance-based standards for new and existing Category 3 engines, including:

  • Tier 2 NOx limits for new Category 3 engines beginning in 2011 that would achieve a 15 to 25 percent NOx reduction.
  • Tier 3 NOx limits for new Category 3 engines beginning in 2016 that would apply when ships are operating in U.S. ports and coastal areas and that would require the use of high efficiency catalytic aftertreatment emission control technology capable of reducing NOx emissions by 80 percent or more.
  • NOx limits for existing engines (those built before Jan. 1, 2000) that would achieve a 20 percent NOx reduction; these standards would phase-in beginning 2010/2012
  • PM and SOx performance standards beginning in 2011 that would apply to all vessels when they are operating in U.S. ports and coastal areas and that could be achieved through the use of low sulfur fuel or the use of exhaust gas cleaning technology.

EPA is providing 60 days for comments on the advance notice of proposed rulemaking. In addition, a schedule for this rulemaking was finalized today, setting a completion date of Dec. 17, 2009.

More information about the advance notice of proposed rulemaking, the timetable for rulemaking, and the government's proposal to the International Maritime Organization (which is presented as a series of amendments to Annex VI of the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships) is available at: epa.gov/otaq/oceanvessels.htm