by Worldchanging Seattle local blogger, Deepak Singh:
Having moved recently to the Seattle area, one of the first things that became obvious was the city's reputation as one of the poster children for sustainable policies in the United States. The latest efforts in biofuels in the area have been covered in recent posts here at Worldchanging-Seattle. The city's reputation for encouraging alternative fuel policies probably had a strong role to play in APL, a shipping giant's recent announcement that vessels belonging to the company would be converted to low-sulfur fuels when they use the Port of Seattle.
Specifically speaking, the auxiliary engines, used when berthed at a port will burn the cleaner burning diesel. According to the company, this will result in the elimination of 2.5 tons of particulate matter emissions and 30 tons of sulfur oxides. The current move is in line with those initiated by the US EPA to establish lower sulfur emission fuel standards and other recent cleaner air efforts by the company— biodiesel for handling equipment, greener upgrades and extension of rail lines.
These vessel emissions are associated with a number of human health issues, air quality and "acid rain," which are all generated by various particulate and gaseous sulfur-containing compounds (SOx) emitted from diesel fuel in direct proportion to the sulfur content. The negative impact of sulfur content in diesel fuel is one of the reasons the EPA and its European counterparts are taking steps to limit SOx emissions. Hopefully, Seattle's efforts as a green city will encourage other companies and cities to take emission reduction steps and adopt other sustainable policies, exceeding regulatory standards when possible.
The Port of Vancouver has just announced a new fee schedule for ships putting in there -- and the costs are keyed to pollution emissions. The less a ship pollutes, the less it costs to dock. It's not a radical policy change, particularly since there are no fees for ships after the fifth time they put in at Vancouver, but it seems like a step in the right direction.