Carriers, terminal operators praise SoCal portÆs fuel subsidy plan
The industry group representing West Coast ocean carriers and marine terminal operators are applauding the Southern California ports' unanimous approval Monday of a low-sulfur fuel subsidy program.
'This program represents another important step in a continuing process toward improving the air quality of Southern California,' said John McLaurin, president of the Pacific Merchant Shipping Association, which has about 60 international shipping lines and marine terminal operators as members. 'Further, PMSA and its members commend the harbor commissioners and mayors for their actions in partnering with us in this unique and mutually beneficial proposal. We hope that this incentive-based approach serves as a model for future endeavors toward this goal of overall emission reductions.'
The one-year subsidy plan will see the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles pay the price differential between the cost of bunker fuel and low-sulfur fuel for use in the main engines of participating vessels. The cost to the two ports, which reported more than 5,700 vessel calls last year, is estimated at more than $18 million per year.
The PMSA first presented the voluntary fuel subsidy plan to the ports last year.
U.S. Maritime Administrator Sean Connaughton praised the model used to create the plan.
'The public/private partnership formed between PMSA and the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles provides the groundwork in reducing emissions at the ports,' Connaughton said. 'The collaborative approach found in this incentive program marks a milestone in making California greener.'
The voluntary program will take affect July 1 and run through June 20, 2009 unless extended by the two ports' commissions. However, a California Air Resources Board regulation requiring the use of low-sulfur fuel in California-calling ocean-going vessels within 24 nautical miles of the coast is set to take effect July 1, 2009. Unless postponed or litigated, the CARB rule would supersede any extension of the port subsidy program. ' Keith Higginbotham