SoCal air regulators threaten to sue EPA over emission standards delay
A Southern California air quality agency warned the Bush administration Thursday that if federal regulators do not enact tougher greenhouse gas emission standards on ocean going vessels calling at U.S. ports within the next six months the local agency might sue.
In a letter to the head of the federal Environmental Protection Agency, the South Coast Air Quality Management District said it cannot protect the more than 16 million residents of Southern California from vessel emissions unless the EPA acts. The local agency does not have the authority to regulate the more than 5,000 vessels per year calling at the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles. The vessels account for nearly 12 percent of all diesel particulate and oxides of nitrogen and sulfur emissions generated annually in the Southern California region.
The move against the EPA on greenhouse gases from vessels follows on the SCAQMD's suit last year against the EPA over delays in implementing federal standards over vessel-generated non-greenhouse gas emissions such as diesel particulate matter and oxides of nitrogen and sulfur. All three pollutants contribute to Southern California's iconic smog. Last week, California and more than a dozen states filed suit against the federal government over an EPA denial of a waiver allowing the states to implement tough California standards on automobile emissions.
SCAQMD Chairman William Burke told EPA chief Stephen Johnson in Thursday's letter that the lack of a tough nation standard on vessel-generated greenhouse gas emissions is hampering SCAQMD efforts to curb the gases in the region. He pointed out this lack of regulation will lead to projected increases in vessel-generated emission while all other sources are likely to decline.
While the EPA declared vessel emissions to be a significant contributor to air pollution in 1994, the federal agency has yet to implement any measures on oceangoing vessels that the SCAQMD considers 'significant.' Last May, the EPA declared that it would hold off implementing any oceangoing vessel emission standards until the end of 2009. ' Keith Higginbotham