PMSA sues to stop Calif. offshore fuel law
The Pacific Merchant Shipping Association on Monday filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court seeking to stop the California’s lead air regulatory agency from enforcing a law requiring oceangoing vessels to use low-emission fuels 24 miles out from the California's coast.
In the injunction request, the nonprofit association said the California Air Resources Board has no jurisdiction to enforce such a mandate beyond three miles of the state coast. CARB is due to start enforcing the regulation from July 1, with “substantial fines and penalties” assessed for those that don’t comply. Vessels will have to run main as well as auxiliary engines on CARB-approved fuels, and those that don’t comply could be subject to fines of $25,000 to $75,000 per day of non-compliance.
PMSA argues that CARB is using a national determination for what constitutes coastal waters, with the U.S. government able to regulate as far as 24 miles out to prevent infringement of customs, fiscal, immigration or sanitary laws. But the association said the same jurisdiction does not exist for the state. The injunction request argues the California regulations would conflict with a potential regulation from the U.S. and Canadian governments requesting that the International Maritime Organization establish an emissions control area around North America.
“PMSA’s members will be required to comply with these unlawful regulations and will be subject to fines, penalties and potential exclusion from the ports of California if they fail to do so,” the lawsuit said. “They suffer immediate and irreparable harm if required to comply with the regulations because they will incur the substantial and immediate additional expense of purchasing and using fuels that comply with CARB regulations and these expenses are not and will not be recoverable from (CARB) or any other entity.”
PMSA represents 67 shipping lines, terminal operators and other maritime interests.