Ship NOx control imperative for US ozone cuts

Air regulators in the United States fear that their long-running efforts to curb ozone forming emissions in order to meet national ozone ambient air standards could be undermined if the International Maritime Organization (IMO) agrees to delay by five years a global deal to cut air pollution from ships.

In May 2013, Russia and some other countries urged the IMO to amend and delay by five years (from 2016 to 2021) the mandate for ships within emission control areas (ECAs) to apply Tier III standards that will cut NOx emissions by some 80 per cent. A final decision on the issue will be taken by IMO in early April.

The delay would not stall the Tier III mandate for US-flagged ships because the Environment Protection Agency (EPA) has already issued domestic Clean Air Act rules to implement the ECA, but it would mean that the mandate for foreign-flagged vessels would be delayed. As a result, anticipated NOx cuts from foreign flagged vessels – which make up the vast majority of ocean-going vessels that enter US ports – could be delayed by five years, exacerbating the ozone problem.

Chris Salmi, a regulator with New Jersey’s Department of Environmental Protection and chair of the Ozone Transport Commission’s (OTC) mobile source committee, said that a five-year delay in NOx control for ships in coastal waters would endanger “huge benefits” that would otherwise flow from the pact. The ECA as planned could cut ozone levels in the US by two parts per billion (ppb), a significant cut. “We don’t want to see that eroded,” he said.

Source: Car Lines No. 5, October 2013

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