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Regulations for Emissions from Vehicles and Engines

Study on the Impacts of Compliance with the ECA Fuel Sulfur Limits on U.S. Coastal Shipping


The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) held a public workshop in Washington, D.C., on July 30, 2018 to engage stakeholders including individuals, companies, states, local communities  in the development of a study of the impacts of the North American Emission Control Area (ECA) fuel sulfur limits for ships. The study will investigate the impacts of the North American ECA fuel sulfur limits on coastal marine transportation.

“Coastal shipping” means the transportation of goods or materials by ship from a port in the United States, Canada, Mexico, or Central America to a United States destination port located on the Pacific, Atlantic, or Gulf coasts, or vice versa. This study will not include shipping between the Great Lakes ports, which was examined in a previous report.

At the workshop, EPA provided background on the study, described the proposed analytic methodology, and solicited stakeholder input regarding the selection of transportation routes to be studied and data inputs. EPA expects to have a draft report ready for peer review in Spring 2019 with a final report expected in FY2020.

Additional Background

As part of the “Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2017” (PL. 115-31), Congress provided a Joint Explanatory Statement that directed EPA to follow the requirements in the 2016 Senate Appropriations Committee Report (114-281). That Report noted that while the Committee supported marine emission control efforts, they were concerned that the costs of ECA-compliant fuel may lead some shippers to less efficient, higher-emitting transportation modes. To address the environmental effects, the Committee directed EPA to consider exempting vessels with engines below 32,000 horsepower and that operate more than 50 miles from shore from the ECA fuel sulfur requirements.

In its February 2018 Report to Congress, EPA noted that such a consideration will required EPA to examine the potential for mode shift in coastal marine transportation markets. This will be done through a study similar to the 2012 Great Lakes Study.

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