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U.S. Senators introduce legislation to eliminate in-port ship emissions

Posted on June 14, 2023

On June 8th, U.S. Senators Alex Padilla and Sheldon Whitehouse introduced a legislation to reduce air pollution within the shipping industry.

Padilla’s Clean Shipping Act of 2023 aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the shipping industry to protect the health of port communities and address the environmental injustice impacts of the climate crisis.

The legislation is led by Congressman Robert Garcia in the House of Representatives. Padilla also cosponsored the International Maritime Pollution Accountability Act, introduced by Whitehouse, which aims to reduce emissions by imposing a pollution fee on large marine vessels offloading cargo at U.S. ports to fund decarbonization efforts in the U.S. maritime economy.

This World Ocean Day, I am proud to introduce legislation that improves our shipping industry by reducing emissions in maritime transportation and simultaneously protecting coastal communities

… said Senator Padilla

Clean Shipping Act

The Clean Shipping Act of 2023 would set a path to eliminate greenhouse gas emissions from all ocean shipping companies that do business with the United States. It would direct the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to set progressively tighter carbon intensity standards for fuels used by ships in order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 2040, consistent with the goals of the Paris Agreement to limit warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

Mandatory, technology-forcing policies like this bill will send a clear signal to industry that zero-emissions shipping must replace fossil fuels. Now is the time for the U.S. to be a global climate leader, and we urge Congress to pass this important legislation

… said Antonio Santos, Federal Climate Policy Director, Pacific Environment

Specifically, the bill would direct the EPA to:

  • Set carbon intensity standards for fuels used by ships. The bill sets progressively tighter carbon intensity standards for fuels used by ships consistent with a 1.5°C decarbonization pathway. These standards would require lifecycle carbon dioxide-equivalent reductions of 20% from January 1, 2027, 45% from January 1, 2030, 80% from January 1, 2035, and 100% from January 1, 2040.
  • Set requirements to eliminate in-port ship emissions by 2030. By January 1, 2030, all ships at-berth or at-anchor in U.S. ports would emit zero GHG emissions and zero air pollutant emissions.

Not only does this bill drastically decrease shipping emissions in the United States, but it brings long-awaited justice to our port-adjacent communities that have suffered the consequences of port pollution for far too long.

… said Congressman Garcia.

Lee Kindberg, Head of Environment & Sustainability, Maersk North America, encouraged the U.S. Congress to act on this legislation and to establish processes to ensure the supply of the green fuels and energy essential to low emissions shipping and logistics. The need is pressing. This must be the decade of action, he said.

International Maritime Pollution Accountability Act

The International Maritime Pollution Accountability Act would levy a pollution fee on large marine vessels offloading cargo at U.S. ports, driving industry-wide decarbonization efforts and incentivizing the use and development of cleaner maritime fuels.

The legislation imposes a $150 per ton fee on the carbon emissions of the fuel burned on the inbound trip, as well as fees for the nitrogen oxides ($6.30/lb.), sulfur dioxide ($18/lb.), and particle pollution (PM2.5) ($38.90/lb.) that the ships emit. Only vessels that have 10,000 gross tonnage or more would be required to pay the fee, which would exclude most domestic shipping.

These pollution fees are estimated to raise approximately $250 billion over 10 years, providing critical funding for decarbonization efforts in the maritime economy.

The revenues collected from the fees would go toward modernizing the Jones Act fleet with low-carbon vessels, revitalizing and electrifying U.S. shipbuilding, and addressing and reducing pollutants in America’s port communities, along our coasts, and in our oceans.

The legislation has been endorsed by the Environmental Defense Fund, Ocean Conservancy, and Pacific Environment. Senator Peter Welch (D-Vt.) also cosponsors the legislation.

We need an all-hands-on-deck approach to prevent the worst effects of climate change, so we’re introducing new legislation to encourage clean shipping, reduce the dirty fossil fuels polluting our oceans, and protect neighbors from the air pollutants plaguing port communities

… said Senator Whitehouse



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