Two Blows for Calif. Emissions Rules

Two Blows for Calif. Emissions Rules

The state of California's efforts to regulate greenhouse gas emissions and other pollutants from ships and cars were dealt two blows last week.

First, a federal appeals court on Wednesday rejected California's regulations limiting emissions from ships that enter state ports, forcing the state to get a waiver from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to enforce the new rule. The EPA, however, dealt the state its second blow Friday by finalizing its decision to turn down California’s waiver to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from cars.

The EPA has never denied California a waiver and has instead issued hundreds to help it regulate smog and pollution. But the EPA argues that climate change is an issue faced by all states -- not just California -- and was better handled by a uniform federal policy, which was introduced in late 2007.

At least 19 other states planned to adopt California’s stricter greenhouse gas emissions rules had the waiver been granted.

Now the state must also seek a waiver to limit pollutants emitted from ships entering its ports. The ships, ranging from cargo vessels to cruise ships, are a source of particulates, nitrogen oxides and other pollutants that have an impact on air quality and the health of nearby residents and workers, the Los Angeles Times reported.

The California Air Resources Board implemented a rule last year focused on the use of auxiliary diesel engines within 24 nautical miles off the coast. The engines, which emit an estimated 1,400 tons of particulates in the L.A. basin each year, run on dirty bunker fuel and provide power for onboard electricity.

The new rules would have applied to new engines only, and some shipping companies has already begun complying.