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Alaska Files Suit to Block Low-Sulfur Fuel Rules for Ships

The state of Alaska has filed a lawsuit in US District Court in Anchorage to block federal environmental regulations that require ships to use low-sulfur fuel.

The regulation, established by the EPA and the US Coast Guard, will require ships operating within 200 miles of the shores of southeasterm and south-central Alaska to use low-sulfur fuel beginning August 1, Reuters reported. The Alaska Department of Law said the requirement would be costly, harm the state’s cruise line industry and push up prices of products shipped by marine vessels in that region.

The cost of goods shipped into Alaska will rise eight percent under the regulations, the state’s lawsuit says. Alaska estimates 90 percent of all goods enter the state through the Port of Anchorage, the Anchorage Daily News reported.

The lawsuit, which was filed against secretary of state Hillary Clinton as well as several federal agencies including the EPA, Department of Homeland Security and the Coast Guard, alleges the decision to include Alaska in the low-sulfur enforcement zone was based on a marine treaty amendment that has yet to be ratified by the US Senate.

In 2010, the International Maritime Organization amended the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships, designating specific portions of US, Canadian and French waters as an Emission Control Area. By 2020, emissions from ships operating in the ECA are expected to be reduced annually by 320,000 tons for nitrogen oxide, 90,000 tons for fine particulate matter and 920,000 for sulfur dioxide, the EPA said.

Other organizations have introduced efforts in recent years to reduce SOx emissions at ports, prior to the creation of the ECA.

The Port of Seattle created the voluntary At-Berth Clean Fuels program, which was credited for reducing emissions of sulfur dioxide by at least 80 percent and particulate matter by 60 percent. Ship operators participating in the ABC Fuels Program agreed to switch to a low-sulfur fuel in their auxiliary engines while docked. As of last year, the program has removed nearly 500 metric tons of sulfur dioxide since 2009.

Photo from Port of Anchorage

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One thought on “Alaska Files Suit to Block Low-Sulfur Fuel Rules for Ships

  1. What AASKA ACTUALLY NEED IS MODERN ELECTRIC TRACTION RAILROAD. With its geographic location, Alaska is like an outstretched hand from American continent to Asia and Europe and land transport between the three continents can be constructed via tunnel under the Bering Strait and that would bring to reality land transport idea of Mr. Henry Carey, the economic advisor of President Lincoln. It is about time to end isolation of people of Alaska and those who call the Arctic their home on all three continents. Where ever the rails go, so does wealth and prosperity.
    Sincerely, George Koumal
    President, Interhemispheric Bering StraitTunnel and Railway Group
    Co-Chairman, Bering Strait Peace Forum

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