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February 5, 2003

New EPA diesel rules face court challenge
Shipowners and diesel manufacturers may be breathing a sigh of relief. Final emissions standards for large marine diesel engines issued by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency are closely aligned to the international standards set in MARPOL Annex V. At least until 2007.

Problem is, the standards are likely to be challenged by environmental lobbyists. "We're headed back to court," said Russell Long, executive director of the San Francisco-based environmental group, Bluewater Network.

The new standards are the first EPA has set for oceangoing ships. The EPA decision to set standards in this area resulted from a lawsuit settlement reached in 2001 following a suit brought by Bluewater Network, represented by Earthjustice, challenging EPA's failure to set any standard under the U.S. Clean Air Act for smog-forming emissions.

Plainly, Bluewater Network is less than happy.

"Federal records prove that the EPA attempted to go much farther with this regulation, but the Bush administration forced the agency to back off on both the stringency of the standards and the deadlines, too," said Long. "Dirty foreign-flag ships -- the lion's share of the problem - will get a free ride until at least 2007 since the rule does not force them to reduce emissions. And engine builders for U.S. ships are already voluntarily meeting the new standards, so on neither count does this regulation actually improve air quality. We're headed back to court."

"The oil tanker owners lobbied the Bush Administration to delay and weaken this regulation, and once again, fossil politics trumped the public interest," continued Long. "It's a disastrous defeat for the environment."

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