Release 07-53
November 15, 2007

    Karen Caesar

ARB approves measures to reduce pollution from commercial harbor craft

New regulation expected to cut emissions by 50 percent by 2015

SACRAMENTO - The Air Resources Board today approved a measure designed to reduce harmful emissions from commercial ferries, excursion vessels such as dinner cruises and tour boats, tugs and towboats in California waters as much as 50 percent by 2015.

With this rule in place, ARB expects emissions of diesel soot and oxides of nitrogen, and their negative health impacts, to be reduced by 40-50 percent by 2015, and 60-70 percent by 2025, compared to 2004 levels. The new measure for commercial harbor craft does not include recreational or ocean-going vessels.

"Today's Board action brings new protection to the thousands of Californians who live and work in port communities," said ARB Chair Mary Nichols. "While harbor craft play a vital role at our ports and along our coast, they also contribute significantly to air emissions most responsible for premature death, respiratory illnesses, and increased risk of heart disease. With today's vote, ARB is now regulating yet another diesel source that has fouled California's air for years."

Roughly 3 tons of diesel soot and 73 tons of NOx are emitted from commercial harbor craft engines daily. A recent ARB study revealed that, for the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, commercial harbor craft is the third highest source of diesel soot emissions contributing to cancer risk at the ports. Statewide, approximately 90 premature deaths per year are associated with emissions from commercial harbor craft.

Currently, about 80 percent of all harbor craft engines in California are unregulated. The new regulation requires these dirty, older engines currently in use on ferries, excursion vessels, tugboats, and towboats to be replaced with newer, cleaner engines meeting more stringent U.S. EPA marine engine standards. Replacements are to be phased in starting in 2009, with the oldest, highest-use engines to be replaced first. In addition, commercial harbor craft operating in the South Coast area are required to replace their engines on an accelerated schedule, in order to help meet federally mandated air quality deadlines.

The regulation exempts certain existing harbor craft from the engine replacement requirements of the regulation such as fishing boats, crew and supply boats, pilot boats, and work boats, such as those operated by police and fire departments and other government entities. However, all new harbor craft, including these vessels, are regulated under this measure and must use the cleanest available marine engines. Similarly, replacement engines on all existing harbor craft will need to be the cleanest available.

The ARB estimates that there are about 4,200 harbor craft vessels and 8,300 harbor craft engines currently in use in California, with each vessel typically having more than one engine. Of these, there are nearly 600 ferries, excursion vessels, tugboats, and towboats equipped with about 1,900 propulsion and auxiliary engines that will be subject to this regulation. While these represent only 15 percent of the vessels (25 percent of the engines), they generate about 50 percent of the emissions. Additionally, most of their emissions are generated within the harbor or close to shore and thus have the greatest impact on adjacent communities. About 40 percent of these vessels are in the Bay Area, while 30 percent service the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach. The remainder are scattered throughout the State.

Over the past two years, ARB has addressed the problem of poor air quality at the ports from several different angles, adopting measures that reduce emissions from cargo handling equipment, require use of cleaner fuel in auxiliary ship engines, and limit onboard ship incineration. In December, ARB will consider two more regulations, including a measure to provide alternative power supplies at ports so that ships can avoid using diesel power while at dock, and a rule requiring retrofit or replacement of older heavy-duty diesel trucks that service ports.

The Air Resources Board is a department of the California Environmental Protection Agency. ARB's mission is to promote and protect public health, welfare, and ecological resources through effective reduction of air pollutants while recognizing and considering effects on the economy. The ARB oversees all air pollution control efforts in California to attain and maintain health based air quality standards.