Statement on Vessel Emissions Standards

Great Lakes Maritime Task Force is deeply committed to protecting the Great Lakes environment and appreciates the opportunity to work with the Environmental Protection Agency to ensure that the final implementation of this rule is fair, balanced, and reasonable.

We believe that a full understanding of the commercial vessels operating on the Great Lakes, their small environmental footprint, their large environmental benefits, and tremendous economic impact can result in a balanced approach that meets the needs of all. The EPA’s proposed regulation would have eliminated 25% of the U.S.–Flag Great Lakes within a few years. Even the Government of Canada has taken the highly unusual step of asking the EPA to undertake further analysis before proceeding with the Great Lakes portion of this proposed regulation lest 50 Canadian–Flag ships be put at risk. By closely examining the impacts and unintended consequences of over–regulating air emissions from vessels, the Great Lakes region can be protected without impeding our regional and national economic recovery. The U.S.–Flag Great Lakes fleet already burns cleaner fuel than that used by many of the world’s oceangoing vessels.

We appreciate the effort of the Great Lakes Congressional delegation and Administration officials who crafted a solution that extends the useful lives of the thirteen U.S.–Flag steamships to 2020, when the .5 % sulfur standard is implemented worldwide. Vessel owners now have more time to make informed business decisions regarding the future of those vessels and explore other options to meet emission requirements. In particular, we thank Congressmen Dave Obey (D-WI) and Jim Oberstar (D-MN), who worked tirelessly to ensure that this regulation can achieve its goals without decimating Great Lakes shipping.

We still must determine the best way to deal with the thirteen U.S.–Flag lakers that employ Category 3 compression-ignition engines. The regulatory flexibility extended to other industries and other fuel standards is appropriate for the Lakes Heavy industry needs affordable transportation of raw materials and so does the American consumer, otherwise neither will prosper. The potential economic impact of the proposed rule, if enacted as proposed, would have been just one more blow for a region already suffering record unemployment.

The environment needs Great Lakes shipping too. Ships burn less fuel and produce fewer emissions than trains and trucks. The thirteen vessels that currently are powered with Category 3 diesel engines using intermediate fuel hauled 29 million tons of cargo in 2008. It would take 1.1 million trucks or 290,000 railcars to replace their carrying capacity. We all win when we keep these cargos on vessels working the Great Lakes.

Founded in 1992, Great Lakes Maritime Task Force promotes domestic and international shipping on the Great Lakes. It is the largest coalition to ever speak for the Great Lakes shipping community and draws its membership from both labor and management representing U.S.–Flag vessel operators, shipboard and longshore unions, port authorities, cargo shippers, terminal operators, shipyards and other Great Lakes interests. Its goals include restoring adequate funding for dredging of Great Lakes deep-draft ports and waterways, construction of a second Poe–sized lock at Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan; protecting the Jones Act and other U.S. maritime cabotage laws and regulations; maximizing the Lakes overseas trade; and opposing exports and increased diversions of Great Lakes water.

For more information contact Glen G. Nekvasil, Secretary:440-333-9996 / E-mail: