EPA and Coast Guard Sign Joint Vessel Air Pollution Enforcement Agreement

The Coast Guard and the EPA have signed an agreement to enhance joint enforcement of air pollution requirements for vessels operating in U.S. waters, such as in the Port of Houston.  Ed Mayberry reports.

The requirements establish limits on nitrogen oxides emissions and require the use of fuel with lower sulfur content. The rules apply to ships within 200 nautical miles off the coastline, no matter what flag the vessels are bearing. Coast Guard Senior Chief Petty Officer Mike O'Berry says signatures were signed this week by representatives of EPA and by Rear Admiral Kevin Cook.

"It's kind of a formalization of something we've been doing since 2009, and that is to protect the environment from air pollutants based on the law. Coast Guard is out there already, so what this agreement does, it brings Coast Guard's ability to do the inspections and if they find anything that's in violation they can report to the EPA or use their own authority if they find other violations to either, you know, detain a boat or any other kind of remidation."

There will be no special boardings just to look for EPA violations.

"It shouldn't affect current shipping as it stands right now. Again, we've been doing this since 2009, some of these inspections already. This just formalizes that agreement and kind of builds partnership and puts some other things in place to where we can work together to develop additional policies and stuff, how to effectively reduce, you know, air emissions and pollutants, you know, in our marine environment."

Without further action, the EPA estimates that by 2030, NOx emissions from ships would more than double. So United Nations standards are being required to address air pollution from ships through use of both engine-based and fuel-based standards. And ships operating in designated geographical areas near populations will have to meet even more stringent standards. Ed Mayberry, KUHF News.

Bio photo of Ed Mayberry

Ed Mayberry

Local Anchor, All Things Considered

Ed Mayberry has worked in radio since 1971, with many of those years spent on the rock 'n' roll disc jockey side of the business...