Shipboard Diesel Is A Largely Uncontrolled Source Of Pollution

On June 16th, Environmental Defense released a report documenting the harmful pollution from commercial shipping. Commercial shipping discharges about 1 million tons of smog-forming pollution each year. In communities like New York, Los Angeles and Houston the smog-forming pollution from ships is comparable to hundreds of thousands of vehicles operating on roads and highways (including passenger cars, SUVs, freight trucks and diesel buses). Yet diesel ships have escaped the tough mandatory controls adopted for land-based diesel engines. Smog Alert: How Commercial Shipping is Polluting Our Air, is available at:

"Ships are floating smokestacks that contribute to a ripple of harmful health effects across America," said Environmental Defense attorney Janea Scott. "Many communities near ports, coastal waterways and inland waterways are hard hit by high-polluting commercial ships. These ships need strong pollution controls to protect the millions of Americans with asthma and other lung diseases."

On April 15, a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) determination found that some 159 million Americans in 474 counties live in areas with unhealthy ozone smog pollution levels. The determination brought 31 states under the nation's smog pollution abatement program. In many communities, especially some of the nation's highly polluted urban centers, all major sources of smog-forming pollution will need to clean up to aid in the fight for cleaner, healthier air.

Many of the nation's largest coastal and inland ports have unhealthy smog levels, including: Houston, Beaumont and Port Arthur, Texas; Baton Rouge; Long Beach; Los Angeles; Oakland; New York; Boston; Philadelphia; Baltimore; Hampton Roads, Virginia; Pittsburgh; St. Louis; Chicago; Detroit; Cincinnati; Cleveland; Toledo; Huntington, West Virginia; and Memphis.

EPA estimates that commercial shipping's contribution to the smog-forming pollution discharged by all sources in the transportation sector will rise from 6.6% in 1996 to about 28% in 2030. By comparison, all of the nation's highway vehicles are projected to contribute 37.5% of the smog-forming pollution from the transportation sector in 2030.

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