??? Here is something I did not know and all of us who are environmental activists should. The large cargo ships that carry all of the imports and exports to and from our country for the most part are huge polluters. They burn diesel oil that is closer to asphalt and is 1800 times dirtier than the fuel burned in U.S. trucks. The Bush administration is claiming to have made headway in talks with other nations to reduce the dangerous emissions coming from these giant diesel-burning ships that pollute U.S. ports.

??? During hearings by the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, Dr. John Miller, an emergency room physician from San Pedro, California said, “International standards for pollution from ship engines, written mostly by the shipping industry, are so lax as to be meaningless.” The panel is considering legislation to sharply curb emissions from the largest cargo carriers, most of which are foreign flagged. Bush officials want to pursue a new global standard instead of tougher standards for ships entering our waters, according to the associate director at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. They say that if we make our own regulations and not use worldwide standards then we risk having shipping prices going up because there will be fewer ships that meet the new qualifications therefor fewer available ships to carry cargo to and from our ports.

??? Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Chairwoman Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., said EPA should act quickly, regardless of the international action. “I just don’t get it,” Boxer said. “Our people are suffering because foreign flags are coming in and they’re filthy and they’re polluting. And we are sitting back saying we can’t do anything until we get this international agreement.”

??? The Bush administration and EPA are being pressured by Congress and environmentalists to enact new regulations and not wait on the U.N. International Maritime Organization to reach an anti-pollution agreement. The EPA intends to issue its new rules in 2009 after the global group comes to a decision about the pollution regulations. They [U.N. International Maritime Organization] are meeting again in April and last met last week. Ms Boxer (Committee Chairwoman) countered that talks have been going on since 2003 and asked, “How long does Jonah have to wait?”, a reference to, Jonah Ramirez, a 12 year old sixth grader from San Bernardino, Calif., who told the hearing of his battles with asthma. “If these particles that I breathe every day are safe, then why do I depend on daily medication and the fast relief of my inhaler to do something that everyone has the right to do: Breathe,” Jonah Ramirez asked the panel.

??? I know our economy depends upon shipping, both into and out of our ports but surely we can do something about emissions coming from these huge ships. I for one think that we are such a prized market that ship owners will do what it takes to keep returning to our lucrative markets. It might cause some short time problems but in the long run it will be better for us, especially those who live close to these large ports. Or even those who happen to live along the shore where these ships travel on there way to the ports. Plus- and this is something I just thought of- It may have an added benefits to U.S. business if the price of cheap imports from China go up.

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