The California Air Resources Board approved a new regulation Thursday designed to further reduce pollution from ocean-faring vessels while they dock at the state’s busiest ports, including Los Angeles and Long Beach.
The updated rule adds new vessel categories that will be required to control pollution when they run auxiliary engines or auxiliary boilers (for most tanker vessels) while docked at ports, according to the CAR.
Auxiliary engines power the electricity and other onboard operations during a vessel’s visit, which can run from less than one day to several days.
“This rule clamps down on air pollution from the largest ships while they’re docked in California ports, and there are multiple ways terminals, ports, ship owners and operators can comply,” said CAR Board Chair Mary Nichols. “The action (the board) took today will deliver cleaner air and public health benefits to all those who live in port-adjacent communities throughout California.”
The rule expands the At-Berth Regulation adopted in 2007, the CAR said, and that rule has achieved an 80% reduction in harmful emissions from more than 13,000 vessel visits since 2014.
Vessels covered under the existing regulation include container ships, refrigerated cargo vessels and cruise ships. The updated regulation adds auto carriers and tankers, two categories the CAR said produce 56% of all fine particulate pollution from ocean-faring vessels at berth in California ports.
Once fully implemented, the updated regulation will deliver a 90% reduction in pollution from an expected additional 2,300 vessel visits per year and result in a 55% reduction in potential cancer risk for communities near the Ports of Los Angeles, Long Beach, the CAR stated.
The existing regulation stays in force through 2022, but auto carriers and tankers will need to comply starting in 2025 at the Los Angeles and Long Beach ports, while tankers in Northern California have until 2027.
International Longshore and Warehouse Union Local 94 President Danny Miranda and ILWU Local 29 President Anthony Soniga, which represent dockworkers at the ports, sent a letter to the CAR Board opposing the decisions.
“We are disappointed in the decision made today by the California Air Resources Board to require roll on/roll off vessels to implement technology that does not exist and which has the potential to jeopardize hundreds of good-paying jobs in the ports of Los Angeles, Long Beach, Hueneme and San Diego,” the local presidents stated.
Roll on/roll off vessels are those that carry wheeled vehicles, such as cars and trucks.
The ILWU officials said rather than pass regulations that could put California ports at a market disadvantage, elected leaders should establish national standards on air quality and environmental standards.
“We want our families to breathe clean, healthy air, but we also want to compete on a level playing field,” the local presidents said. “We cannot support any action that encourages (roll on/roll off) vessels to bypass West Coast ports in favor of Houston, South Carolina or Mexico.”
The rule requires that every vessel coming into a regulated California port either use shore power from the electrical grid or a CAR Board-approved control technology to reduce harmful emissions.
The harmful materials include diesel particulate matter, fine particulate matter, oxides of nitrogen, reactive organic gases, greenhouse gases and oxides of sulfur.
Ship owners, terminal and port operators that need additional time to comply may petition the CAR Board to use alternative means of achieving equivalent or greater emissions reductions in port-adjacent communities.
In limited circumstances, port and shipping entities that are unable to comply will, if their application is approved by CAR Board, also have an opportunity to pay into a remediation fund. These funds must be used for environmental projects that will benefit port-adjacent neighborhoods.
The updated regulation also includes an interim evaluation, to be conducted in 2022, to evaluate progress and identify any problems relating to implementation or compliance with the updated At-Berth Regulation.
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