NOx Emissions from Ships a Major Source of Air Pollution on the California Coast

The California coastline is one of the most beautiful in the world. But instead of clean, fresh sea air, the cities and towns along the coast suffer from serious air pollution created by nitrogen oxides (NOx) emissions. Large ocean-going ships are one of the last unregulated sources of air pollution and, according to Santa Barbara County Air Pollution Control District (APCD) 2001 Clean Air Plan, are responsible for nearly 45 percent of the NOx emissions emitted along the coast–more than all road vehicles combined. By 2015, the Plan projects that NOx emissions from ships will be almost five times greater than those from on-road motor vehicles, and comprise more than 60 percent of the total NOx emissions inventory.

As a direct result of California’s role as a major point of entry and departure for trade between the U.S. and Asia, there has been a remarkable increase in the number and size of ships plying their trade along this coastline. The larger vessels use massive two-stroke engines that can produce as much power as a small power plant and burn a heavy, dirty fuel oil.

A NOx Technical Code was adopted at a conference held in September 1997 under the auspices of the International Maritime Organization (IMO), the United Nations agency concerned with the safety of shipping and the prevention of marine pollution. According to material presented at a 2006 meeting of the California Air Resources Board, ship emissions are expected to double by 2020 and current international standards are seen as inadequate. The IMO and the U.S.

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) were expected to establish stricter air pollution standards for large ships in the next few months, but both these initiatives have run into delays.

“California has a beautiful coastline and offers a unique lifestyle. We should be doing everything possible to protect it,” said Bob Carroll, CEO of Biofriendly, a California corporation that manufactures Green Plus®, a liquid fuel catalyst that reduces NOx…

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