California low-sulphur ship rule

A six-year legal battle over California’s authority to impose low-sulphur fuel regulations on ships sailing within 24 nautical miles (nm) of its coastline has been put to rest.

“California’s vessel fuel rules protect public health. They are technically feasible. They make economic sense. And today, we can finally conclude: they are legal,” said Melissa Lin Perrella, senior attorney with the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC).

Last year, the California Air Resources Board (ARB) approved changes to the state’s clean fuel regulations for ocean-going vessels (OGV), introducing a two-year delay in tightening the sulphur limit for the required distillate fuels to 0.1%. Despite this delay, it will introduce a 0.1% sulphur limit in Californian waters in 2014. At present, the regulation requires OGVs to use either marine gas oil with a maximum of 1.00% sulphur, or marine diesel oil, with a maximum of 0.50% sulphur, within 24 nm of California’s coast.

As from 2015 all ships within 200 nm of the US coastlines (i.e. inside the North American emission control area), will be required to use fuel that does not exceed 0.10% sulphur content, or use abatement technology to achieve equivalent sulphur emission reductions.

Source: Sustainable Shipping News, 20 November 2012

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