Gard details changes in California’s berthing regulations

(LONDON) — While container, reefer and passenger vessels are so far the only vessel types required to control their emissions while berthed in California, all vessels must submit a report to the authorities within 30 days after visiting one of the state’s ports, Gard noted in a regulatory update on Wednesday.

Controlling emissions from vessels at berth is nothing new in California. Since 2014, the California Resource Board’s (CARB) 2007 at-berth regulation has regulated emissions from container, refrigerated cargo (reefer) and passenger vessels. However, in December 2020 a new at-berth regulation was approved, with more stringent air emission control and reporting requirements that took effect from Jan. 1, 2023.

Gard photo

The new 2020 at-berth regulation broadens the scope of the previous regulation by expanding emission control requirements to more vessels, including two additional vessel types: tanker and ro-ro vessels, and new ports and terminals that serve these vessel types. Changing from a 25-visit, fleet-based threshold to a 20-visit, terminal-based threshold also increases the number of the already-regulated vessel types, i.e. container, reefer and passenger vessels, subject to emission control requirements.

Emission control requirements

As a general principle, all oceangoing vessels are subject to the 2020 at-berth regulation. However, and as detailed in Gard’s alert “Prepare for tougher at-berth emissions reductions in California,” only container, reefer, passenger, ro-ro and tanker vessels must use a CARB Approved Emission Control Strategy (CAECS) while at berth. That is, unless the vessel is visiting a low activity terminal, i.e. a terminal that receives less than 20 visits from that vessel type per calendar year. Furthermore, the following implementation schedule is used to gradually phase in compliance with the new emission control requirements for the various vessel types:

• Jan. 1, 2023/Container, reefer and passenger vessels
• Jan. 1, 2025/Ro-ro and tanker vessels visiting the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach
• Jan. 1, 2027/All remaining tanker vessels

Reporting requirements

All vessel categories, including bulk and general cargo vessels, have visit reporting requirements under the new 2020 at-berth regulation. In practice, this means that all vessels, regardless of whether a vessel or terminal has emission control requirements, must submit a report to CARB within 30 days after visiting a California marine terminal. It is also worth noting that ro-ro and tanker vessels have the same visit reporting requirements as other vessels, which means that these vessel types must submit visit reports to CARB also in the period leading up to the deadline for complying with the emission control requirements.

The initial implementation date of the reporting requirement was to be Jan. 1, 2023. However, in a notice of Jan. 20, 2023, CARB advises that it has granted an extension to reporting requirements until April 1, 2023. Any reports that would have been due prior to April 1, 2023 are now due on that date, CARB said, adding that it encourages those that can achieve the reporting time frames set forth in the new regulation to continue to do so.

– Gard

By Rich Miller