On March 4, 2014, representatives of the maritime industry appeared before the House Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation and called for legislative reform of key environmental regulations. They represented a phalanx of maritime interests: the Chamber of Shipping of America, the American Waterways Operators, the Shipping Industry Coalition, INTERTANKO, Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), the Maritime Industrial Transportation Alliance (MITA), and the commercial fishing industry.
The EPA's Emission Control Area (ECA) Regulations
The witness representing MITA, an organization that promotes short-sea shipping in North America, testified that the ECA regulation mandated an unwarranted "one-size-fits-all" approach to regulating air emissions. He testified that EPA should have considered the short-sea shipping market as a separate and distinct operation for purposes of establishing the requirements. He explained that EPA erroneously lumped together larger ocean-going vessels of distinctly different operational characteristics with smaller short-sea vessels.
He testified that short-sea vessels should not be regulated in the same manner as ocean-going vessels. He stated that their smaller engines - 20,000 horsepower and less - produce fewer emissions and that, because they operate largely more than 40 miles offshore, their shore-side environmental impact is negligible.
He explained that the increased cost of low and ultra-low sulfur fuels would drive short-sea companies out of business. He predicted an increase in cargo rates of 35 percent, which he feared would force his customers to use trains and trucks, which he described as "less safe, less efficient, and more harmful to our environment." He proposed that Congress or the EPA revise the regulation to reduce from 200 to 50 nautical miles offshore the approaching ECA requirement for the use of ultra-low sulfur fuel for short-sea shipping vessels in 2015.