Dirty ships may have to clean up act when closer to shore.

Change for ships could equal taking millions of cars off road.

Thousands of big ships calling at the Port of Houston each year would switch to cleaner low-sulfur fuel once they move within 230 miles of the coast under federal rules announced Monday.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency proposed the standards to curb harmful emissions from oceangoing vessels at the nation’s ports.

The new rules would cut the sulfur content of the fuels ships use in controlled areas along coasts by 98 percent over the next decade, EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson said at a news conference at Port Newark in New Jersey.

“This is an important—and long overdue — step in our efforts to protect the air and water along our shores, and the health of the people in our coastal communities,” Jackson said.

The proposed rules would have a significant effect on the bustling Port of Houston, where more than 8,000 vessels called last year, including tankers, container ships and cruise ships. The port is one of the reasons why the region’s air ranks among the nation’s dirtiest.

The switch to a fuel with less sulfur, as proposed by the EPA, would be the equivalent of eliminating 6 million cars that meet current emissions standards from Houston’s roads, according to a newly released report by a coalition of environmental and public health groups.

“It’s a no-brainer,” said Elena Craft, a Houston-based air quality specialist for the Environmental Defense Fund. “It will be the most effective emissions reduction effort we have, and the beauty is that it doesn’t require us to do anything but ask for these restrictions.

Article here.

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