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Shipping Industry Testifies Over EPA Fuel Rule

In March, Congressional leaders heard from shipping industry representative Rod Jones, president of the CSL Group, and Bill Terry, CEO of Eagle Rock Aggregates, about a new shipping fuel requirement from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), set to take effect in 2015.

Both testified in person and via written statement as part of the Maritime Transportation Regulations: Impacts on Safety, Security, Jobs and the Environment hearing convened by the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure’s Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation.

The new rule in question seeks to limit sulfur emissions from shipping vessels traveling within the 200 nautical mile (nm) boundary of the North American Emission Control Area (ECA) by requiring the use of a highly expensive, lowsulfur fuel. Shipping industry representatives think the new rule is likely to spur increased onshore air pollution and higher shipping costs, as well as increased shipping prices for companies reliant on the short sea shipping industry.

According to Jones and Terry, EPA didn’t consider the short sea industry, whose vessels travel almost entirely within the ECA. The new fuel’s price tag, they said, is so expensive that it is likely to displace cargo shipments onto substantially less environmentally sound shipping modes, particularly trucks and trains – a $815,000 annual fuel costs, Jones said in his testimony. “For CSL alone, the cost could exceed 14 million dollars per year,” he added.

As an alternative, Jones proposed that the requirement be amended to only affect short sea ships until they reach 50 nm from shore. Short sea shipping vessels, he testified, have virtually no impact on coastal air quality once reaching their cruising distance of 50 nm out at sea. “This revision will move away from the current ‘one size fits all’ regulation and align with a scientifically based approach, which achieves the same environmental protection goals,” Jones said.

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