eMission control – Focus: Seaways

Ballast water being pumped off cargo ship
Ballast water being pumped off cargo ship

Based on my reading of “California ships required to use cleaner fuel benefits public health,” written by Melissa Lin Perrella with the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), it is my understanding a federal district court on Nov. 16, 2012 agreed to reject a lawsuit having to do with the Pacific Merchant Shipping Association’s (PMSA) challenge of a California regulation that requires large maritime vessels conducting business at ports in state to employ the use of cleaner fuel.

So who does this affect? Eight out of 10 Californians, according to the NRDC staff member.

“While people living close to ports are particularly affected, wind patterns, geography, and meteorology transport vessel-generated air pollution from our coastline and into inland communities,” Lin Perrella wrote. “Particles of burned fuel are then inhaled by millions of Californians—aggravating our lungs and compromising our health.”

In no uncertain terms, the NRDC staff member stated:

PMSA’s attack on California’s vessel fuel rules began in 2006, and involved two separate lawsuits over whether California has legal authority to impose clean fuel requirements on ships. The shipping industry challenged regulations requiring thousands of vessels that transport TVs, tennis shoes and cars over the Pacific and to our ports to use cleaner fuel starting 24 nautical miles from California’s shore. NRDC joined both cases to help California defend its regulations. While the shipping industry prevailed in the first lawsuit, California prevailed in the second. As a result of this recent victory, roughly 3,500 premature deaths will be avoided by dramatically reducing air pollution from shipping operations.

The implications are indeed far-reaching.

Image above: United States Coast Guard

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