US legislation to hold global shipping industry accountable for climate and air pollution introduced in Congress

“This is a big step forward for climate smart ports and a clean energy future for every community.”

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Following the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in West Virginia v. EPA, Congressman Alan Lowenthal (D-Calif.), along with original co-sponsor Congresswoman Nanette Barragán (D-Calif.), introduced the Clean Shipping Act of 2022. The bill aims to clean up the shipping industry by zeroing out pollution from all ocean shipping companies that do business with the United States.

The Supreme Courts decision to “curbs the EPA’s ability to regulate carbon pollution under the Clean Air Act” allows this “stand-alone legislation” to protect the health of port communities, address environmental injustice, and provide solutions to the climate crisis, according to a press release.
We no longer have the luxury of waiting to act,” Congressman Lowenthal said. “This legislation will set clear standards, and drive the investment and innovation we need to transition to a zero carbon future. It will clean up our ports once and for all, with a straightforward nationwide policy.”

According to environmental groups, fossil-fueled ships, which are mostly owned by international corporations, have brought and continue to raise the levels of pollution into port adjacent communities in Los Angeles and Long Beach to name a couple. Research shows that “port-adjacent communities experience up to eight years lower life expectancy than the Los Angeles County average” and have the highest risk of cancer in the region.

“Communities living near ports breathe in a toxic blend of exhaust that burns some of the dirtiest fuels on the planet, an unacceptable reality of our transportation system that has gotten worse with the increase in delivery goods,” Katherine García, director of Sierra Club’s Clean Transportation for All campaign, said. “Port communities should not be sacrifice zones. Congressman Lowenthal’s legislation is critical to protecting the health of millions of Americans and acting on a significant yet overlooked source of climate pollution.”

With the shipping industry emits more than 1 billion tons of climate pollution each year, the Clean Shipping Act of 2022, which is modeled off of the European Union’s Fit for 55 regulatory framework for shipping, will—together without the EU—regulate ship pollution. This bill will encompass about one-third of all global ships under the unified regulatory regime, according to a press release.

“The Clean Shipping Act of 2022 is bold legislation that will make the United States a global climate leader in addressing pollution from the shipping industry and protect the health of port communities in Los Angeles and around the country,” Congresswoman Barragán said. “This is a big step forward for climate smart ports and a clean energy future for every community.”

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