Brown Calls Upon EPA to Curb Greenhouse Gases From Ocean-Going Vessels

Tuesday, October 2, 2007
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LOS ANGELES – Citing the “threat of global climate disruption,” California Attorney General Edmund G. Brown Jr. today joined three national environmental organizations in petitioning the United States Environmental Protection Agency to adopt strict greenhouse gas regulations for ocean-going vessels. The petition asks the EPA to make specific findings that ships significantly contribute to global warming.

At a news conference at the attorney general’s headquarters in Los Angeles, Brown said: “The U.S. EPA has the authority to curb greenhouse gas emissions and our petition today asks the agency to exercise that authority without delay.”

Ocean-going vessels, in total, emit more CO2 emissions than any nation in the world except the U.S., Russia, China, Japan, India and Germany. Ominously, these emissions are projected to increase nearly 75% during the next 20 years.

“International law guarantees a right of ‘innocent passage’ for all ocean-going vessels, but this right does not include polluting the air or water near our coastal cities,” Brown said. “If the U.S. is to do its part in reducing the threat of global climate disruption, then EPA must limit the global warming emissions from ships that enter the ports of the United States,” Brown added.

Under the Clean Air Act, California has the authority to file a petition asking the EPA to establish CO2 emissions standards. In the petition filed today, Brown asks the EPA to:

• Make a finding that carbon dioxide emissions from ocean-going vessels contribute to air pollution and endanger human health and welfare.
• Set standards for reducing such carbon dioxide emissions.

Brown said that under the reasoning of the United States Supreme Court’s holding in Massachusetts v. EPA, the Environmental Protection Agency has the authority to adopt standards for greenhouse gas emissions from vessels that enter U.S. territorial waters.

The United Nations International Maritime Organization (IMO) has authority under international treaties to establish pollution standards for vessels but to date has failed to adopt controls on greenhouse gas emissions. At a recent meeting of the IMO Marine Environment Protection Committee, it was agreed to inventory greenhouse gases by 2009, but no commitment was made to regulate such emissions.

The state’s petition to EPA is attached.

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