The new rule would force cargo ships and oil tankers to use cleaner oil near coasts. The fuel will have 98 percent less sulfur content and is expected to cut particulate matter emissions 85 percent and nitrogen oxide emissions by 80 percent below global requirements.
Ships must begin using the fuel in 2015, while newer ships must be equipped with emissions control technologies in 2016. The rules would save more than 8,000 U.S. and Canadian lives annually by 2020 and reduce heart disease and respiratory problems, the EPA said. More than 40 ports in metropolitan areas don’t meet air quality standards.
The United Nation’s International Maritime Organization will review the proposal to designate the coastlines as emissions control areas in July, and could approve it next year.
The move is part of a series of ongoing efforts to clean up the nation’s ports, which sit near communities where millions of Americans live. For example, in California, there are a series of efforts under way to reduce emissions from diesel trucks, including the Clean Truck Program at the Los Angeles and Long Beach ports to help subsidize the replacement of older trucks using funds from recently introduced container fees.