The following is the text of a press release issued July 8 by U.S. Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, D-Md.:
(WASHINGTON) — Today, Congressman Elijah E. Cummings, Chairman of the House Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation, urged his colleagues to support H.R. 802, the Maritime Pollution Prevention Act of 2008 (MARPOL), which offers the first opportunity to limit emissions from ships—the last major non-regulated source of ozone-depleting emissions in the U.S.
“While so many people are conscious about the emissions of automobiles, few people realize that emissions of sulfur oxide from ships are now estimated to exceed the combined output from all of the cars, trucks, and buses in the entire world,” Congressman Cummings said. “Instituting these changes takes a long overdue and critical step forward in protecting the earth for our children, and it ensures that our nation remains at the forefront of achieving reductions in pollution from vessels at sea.”
The legislation, introduced by Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman James L. Oberstar and Congressman Cummings, overwhelmingly passed the House by a vote of 359 to 48 last March and is scheduled for final consideration today before being sent to the President to sign into law.
MARPOL is a treaty created in 1973 that is negotiated by the members of the International Maritime Organization (IMO), the United Nations body responsible for developing the regulations for ocean shipping. It currently includes six amendments limiting various forms of pollution from ships—including Annex VI, which controls air pollution and has been in force internationally since 2005. U.S. laws do not currently comply with this annex.
“With the expansion of globalization, our nation increasingly relies on maritime transportation, and the volume of trade through U.S. ports is only expected to increase,” Congressman Cummings said. “It is essential that we account for this growth in the industry by implementing common sense precautions to protect our environment.”
Additionally, by enacting MARPOL into law, the United States will be able to participate in negotiations for strengthened emissions controls currently under consideration by the IMO.