Boxer Seeks Tougher Pollution Standards, Cites Public Health Concerns
Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) on Thursday held a hearing at the Port of Los Angeles to highlight the damaging health effects of pollution from ocean vessels on communities near the port, the Los Angeles Times reports.
Ship fuel accounts for more than half of all sulfur in the region, a contributor to cancer-causing diesel soot and other types of air pollution. Ship traffic is expected to double to 6,000 vessels in coming years, according to the Times.
Air pollution in Southern California is linked to an estimated 5,400 premature deaths annually, along with millions of asthma attacks and missed school and workdays.
The Environmental Protection Agency has proposed to reduce the amount of sulfur in ship fuel, but it wants the new standards to be ratified by the International Maritime Organization, an arm of the United Nations.
IMO currently allows 45,000 parts per one million of sulfur in ship fuel, but legislation by Boxer and Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) would reduce the sulfur content in ship fuel to 1,000 parts per one million.
EPA officials say the support the lower sulfur content but would like IMO to ratify the lower levels before EPA writes new regulations.
Boxer criticized the Bush administration for its delay in setting the new standards, arguing that negotiations with the IMO "were recently delayed for at least another year." She added, "We must stop wasting time" (Wilson, Los Angeles Times, 8/10).