Carbajal introduces bill funding research of zero-emission technologies
Rep. Salud Carbajal, D-Santa Barbara, recently reintroduced the bipartisan Expanding Maritime Environmental and Technical Assistance Program Act to support reduction of air emissions from ports and vessels.
The bill would provide $3 million for the META program, which will research activities related to zero-emission technologies.
Rep. Bob Gibbs, R-Ohio, co-led the legislation in the House, and Sen. Edward Markey, D-Massachusetts, introduced companion legislation in the Senate.
“Commerce by sea is cleaner and safer than land, but traditional maritime fuel emits harmful greenhouse gases which contribute to climate change. Without decisive action in the maritime industry and elsewhere, we are going to experience severe impacts on our way of life from sea-level rise, flooding and more frequent extreme weather events,” Rep. Carbajal said in a statement. “I’m glad to be introducing this bipartisan bill with Sen. Markey and Rep. Gibbs, which invests in research and development of zero-emission port and vessel technology so we can reduce emissions in the maritime sector.”
Rep. Carbajal is chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation. He held a hearing Thursday called “Practical Steps Toward a Carbon-Free Maritime Industry: Updates on Fuels, Ports and Technology,” which can be viewed at https://tinyurl.com/636j8f5c. The congressman examined ways to reduce pollution with representatives from the World Shipping Council, the Port of Hueneme, the International Council on Clean Transportation and more.
“It is critical to note the importance ports have in driving local and regional economies by providing the gateway for delivery of goods and employment opportunities,” Kristin Decas, CEO and Port director of Port of Hueneme, said at the hearing in her testimony, adding that prior to the pandemic, personal income and economic output at U.S. coastal ports accounts for $5.4 trillion, roughly 26% of GDP. She also said that more than 30.8 million Americans are employed in jobs with port activity, and ports generate $47.1 billion of direct, induced and indirect federal, state and local tax revenue.
“California ports such as the Port of Hueneme have been early adopters of green technology solutions. California Ports are the pioneers of testing, innovating and taking on the risk of implementing new technologies that lower emissions. As early adopters, California ports have expertise on best practices and what works,” Ms. Decas said. “We stand ready to help prosper federal action to assess and invest in our future.”
The META program would research and address the need for multimodal modeling to aid in assessing maritime transportation alternatives, and figure out whether equipment or energy substitutions are cost effective and able to achieve anticipated outcomes.
“Air pollution from large marine diesel engines has the potential to affect not just coastal and port communities, but also populations hundreds of miles away,” the program’s website writes. “As with other modes of transportation, there are many potential methods for achieving reductions, such as cleaner burning fuels, emissions abatement equipment on board vessels and more efficient design and operation of ships.”
According to a legislative affairs letter from the County Executive Office, ocean-going vessels traversing the Santa Barbara Channel produce more than 40% of the nitrogen oxides emissions generated within the county. The office wrote that while the Environmental Protection Act helped achieve some regulations, three areas still need to be addressed: reducing emission from existing engines, reducing air quality impacts from existing shipping lanes and implementing a vessel speed reductions plan for the channel.
“Marine shipping represents a major source of uncontrolled air pollution as ships contribute to worldwide emissions of nitrogen oxides, particulate matter, sulfur, air toxics, greenhouse gases and ozone-depleting substances,” the letter said. “These emissions represent a serious threat to air quality and public health. Moreover, local control is diminished as federal and state laws (Federal and California Clean Air Acts) require adherence to air quality standards.”
Visit congress.gov and search H.R. 2386 to learn more about the bill.