The agency announced earlier this month that it is issuing rules to conform with Annex VI of the International Maritime Organization convention on maritime pollution, known as Marpol. Annex VI, which Congress approved last year, adopts 200-mile emission control areas. Vessels operating within the zone must burn low-sulfur fuel or otherwise control emissions of sulfur- and nitrous oxides and particulate matter.
Part two of EPA's strategy is adoption of rules under the Clean Air Act governing emissions from U.S.-flag ships with new diesel engines of 30 liters or more displacement. Emission reductions will be in two tiers, using existing and new technology to reduce nitrous oxide emissions by 80 percent after 2016.
The new regulations provide some relief for ships in the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Seaway. If low-sulfur distillate fuel is not available, vessels will be permitted to burn bunker fuel with the lowest sulfur content available. The EPA also will provide temporary regulatory relief for Great Lakes operators that claim compliance will cause economic hardship.
The EPA estimates compliance will cost operators $1.85 billion for fuel and technology changes in 2020, rising to $3.1 billion in 2030.
Neither of the EPA's rules addresses the issue of greenhouse gas emissions from ships operating in U.S. waters. The IMO will meet in March to continue discussion of the carbon dioxide issue.