Air quality officials tighten rules on harbor boats to reduce pollution in West Oakland – CBS San Francisco
OAKLAND (BCN) — West Oakland residents will soon be able to breathe much easier thanks to a rule passed by the California Air Resources Board on Thursday.
The board updated its regulations for commercial harbor craft such as fishing boats, tugboats and ferries to reduce pollution from those boats. Port vehicles operate near land, and the updated regulation aims in part to improve air quality in communities like West Oakland, which is close to water and considered disadvantaged.
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The change is expected to save over 530 lives in California and reduce the risk of cancer for over 22 million California residents, according to the Air Resources Board.
“These changes will help clean the air and protect public health, particularly in communities bordering ports that already suffer from high levels of air pollution,” Chief Executive Liane Randolph said in a statement.
West Oakland is close to the Port of Oakland, the San Francisco Bay, and freeways where vehicles and ships travel, causing neighborhood pollution.
“West Oakland residents endure the highest levels of diesel particulate matter in the Bay Area,” according to the West Oakland Environmental Indicators Project, an environmental justice advocate.
The risk of cancer from local pollutants is nearly three times higher in neighborhoods near the Port of Oakland and Seventh Street than in more distant neighborhoods, according to the project.
West Oakland residents also experience higher rates of asthma, cardiovascular disease and premature death than other parts of the region, according to the group.
“We are pleased that the Board continues to enact regulations that reduce diesel emissions in our community,” said Brian Beveridge, co-director of the project.
However, Beveridge added that the new regulation “must be implemented in a manner that is equitable in terms of both burden and benefit.”
Some of the burden falls on small mom and pop fishing boats, which may choose to go out of business rather than switch to cleaner engines.
“We want to clean up the pollution,” Beveridge said. “We’re not trying to get rid of people.”
The updated regulation will be phased in over the next year and most shipowners will need to transition by 2032. Some owners won’t need to upgrade until 2034 if they get an extension to replace a ship they need to replace and can’t afford.
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Recreational fishing vessel owners can receive a one-time 10-year extension to 2035 if the vessel has all Tier 3 engines by the end of 2024. Marine engines are referred to as Tier 1 through Tier 4. Tier 4 are the newest and least polluting engines.
Other compliance flexibilities are available for all vessel types, according to the Air Resources Board.
The updated regulation requires zero-emission engines and Tier 3 and Tier 4 engines for all other vessels wherever possible. Ships must use diesel particulate filters.
Short-distance ferries must be emission-free by 2025.
The updated regulation also establishes the first engine emission requirements for pilot vessels, commercial passenger fishing vessels, workboats, research vessels and tankers over 400 feet.
Previously, these ships had to use cleaner engine fuel, but not cleaner engines.
“California’s stricter rules on ferries, charter fishing boats and tugboats will bring key health benefits to congested port communities,” said Mariela Ruacho, clean air advocacy manager at the American Lung Association.
“Emissions from diesel ships are a leading source of cancer risk for these communities, and the transition to cleaner engines and zero-emission technologies will deliver billions in health benefits, save hundreds of lives and reduce a host of lung and heart diseases,” Ruacho said.
Incentives to switch to cleaner engines are available for operators, particularly those who are about to switch or go beyond the requirements of the updated regulation.
Additional funds may be available through the Carl Moyer program, the Volkswagen Environmental Mitigation Trust for California, and Community Air Protection Incentives, among others.
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