Padilla, Whitehouse Introduce Bills to Reduce Ocean Shipping Emissions

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, on World Oceans Day, U.S. Senators Alex Padilla (D-Calif.) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) introduced legislation to reduce air pollution within the shipping industry. Padilla’s Clean Shipping Act of 2023 aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the shipping industry to protect the health of port communities and address the environmental injustice impacts of the climate crisis. The legislation is led by Congressman Robert Garcia (D-Calif.-42) in the House of Representatives. Padilla also cosponsored the International Maritime Pollution Accountability Act, introduced by Whitehouse, which aims to reduce emissions by imposing a pollution fee on large marine vessels offloading cargo at U.S. ports to fund decarbonization efforts in the U.S. maritime economy.

“This World Ocean Day, I am proud to introduce legislation that improves our shipping industry by reducing emissions in maritime transportation and simultaneously protecting coastal communities,” said Senator Padilla. “California’s port communities have been forced to shoulder the brunt of shipping pollution for too long. The health of our communities and the health of our planet requires us to be forward thinking and ambitious—we owe it to future generations.”

“We need an all-hands-on-deck approach to prevent the worst effects of climate change, so we’re introducing new legislation to encourage clean shipping, reduce the dirty fossil fuels polluting our oceans, and protect neighbors from the air pollutants plaguing port communities,” said Senator Whitehouse. “I’m glad to introduce this pair of bills with Senator Padilla to steer the global shipping industry away from emissions-heavy fuels and toward sustainable shipping technologies that are being developed here in America.”

Clean Shipping Act

The Clean Shipping Act of 2023 would set a path to eliminate greenhouse gas emissions from all ocean shipping companies that do business with the United States. It would direct the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to set progressively tighter carbon intensity standards for fuels used by ships in order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 2040, consistent with the goals of the Paris Agreement to limit warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

Specifically, the bill would direct the EPA to:

  • Set carbon intensity standards for fuels used by ships. The bill sets progressively tighter carbon intensity standards for fuels used by ships consistent with a 1.5°C decarbonization pathway. These standards would require lifecycle carbon dioxide-equivalent reductions of 20% from January 1, 2027, 45% from January 1, 2030, 80% from January 1, 2035, and 100% from January 1, 2040.
  • Set requirements to eliminate in-port ship emissions by 2030. By January 1, 2030, all ships at-berth or at-anchor in U.S. ports would emit zero GHG emissions and zero air pollutant emissions.

“The Clean Shipping Act of 2023 is a strong, necessary step that will make our maritime ports greener and address ongoing challenges contributing to the global climate crisis,” said Congressman Garcia. “Not only does this bill drastically decrease shipping emissions in the United States, but it brings long-awaited justice to our port-adjacent communities that have suffered the consequences of port pollution for far too long.”

“Maersk continues to work actively to decarbonize our global operations by 2040, as demanded by many of our top global customers as well as governments and port communities. We appreciate and recognize the efforts by the United States to lead in climate and environmental progress and to establish structures to accelerate decarbonization. We encourage the U.S. Congress to act on this legislation and to establish processes to ensure the supply of the green fuels and energy essential to low emissions shipping and logistics. The need is pressing. This must be the decade of action,” said Lee Kindberg, Head of Environment & Sustainability, Maersk North America.

“We commend Congressmembers Garcia, Barragán, and Padilla for leading the effort to reintroduce the Clean Shipping Act to help protect U.S. port communities from toxic pollution. Momentum for shipping decarbonization continues to grow around the world and here in the U.S. with eight out of 10 registered voters wanting to see Congress pass laws that will make the shipping industry cleaner. Mandatory, technology-forcing policies like this bill will send a clear signal to industry that zero-emissions shipping must replace fossil fuels. Now is the time for the U.S. to be a global climate leader, and we urge Congress to pass this important legislation,” said Antonio Santos, Federal Climate Policy Director, Pacific Environment.

“For decades we have strived to reduce air pollution in Southern California, and while we have made tremendous strides, cleaning the air requires a cleaner goods movement industry. As e-commerce continues to grow, so do emissions from ships and trucks transporting packages through our ports and across the nation. The Clean Shipping Act sends a clear message to the global shipping industry that they must act to reduce the air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions that are endangering public health. It’s the only way to provide relief to our residents and portside communities that have suffered from polluted air for decades,” said Vanessa Delgado, Chair of South Coast Air Quality Management District.

Additional quotes from supporters as well as a list of endorsing organizations is available here.

Full text of the bill is available here.

International Maritime Pollution Accountability Act

The International Maritime Pollution Accountability Act would levy a pollution fee on large marine vessels offloading cargo at U.S. ports, driving industry-wide decarbonization efforts and incentivizing the use and development of cleaner maritime fuels. The legislation imposes a $150 per ton fee on the carbon emissions of the fuel burned on the inbound trip, as well as fees for the nitrogen oxides ($6.30/lb.), sulfur dioxide ($18/lb.), and particle pollution (PM2.5) ($38.90/lb.) that the ships emit. Only vessels that have 10,000 gross tonnage or more would be required to pay the fee, which would exclude most domestic shipping.

These pollution fees are estimated to raise approximately $250 billion over 10 years, providing critical funding for decarbonization efforts in the maritime economy. The revenues collected from the fees would go toward modernizing the Jones Act fleet with low-carbon vessels, revitalizing and electrifying U.S. shipbuilding, and addressing and reducing pollutants in America’s port communities, along our coasts, and in our oceans.

The legislation has been endorsed by the Environmental Defense Fund, Ocean Conservancy, and Pacific Environment. Senator Peter Welch (D-Vt.) also cosponsors the legislation.

Full text of the bill is available here.


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