"LONG BEACH -- More than a year after California was rebuffed in federal court for pursuing emission rules on freight ships, federal authorities are pushing to adopt similar restrictions that could prevent up to 33,000 premature deaths annually in the U.S. and Canada.
In a meeting with the public Thursday in Long Beach, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency rolled out a proposed law requiring ships to use cleaner fuels within 200 miles of the U.S. and Canadian coastline by 2020.
The 'clean-air buffer zone' proposal, expected to be finalized through an international treaty in October, would help slash toxic emissions in and around busy seaports like Long Beach and Los Angeles, where ship emissions are blamed for health problems like cancer, heart disease and asthma.
Under the measure, exhaust from cargo ships could drop by as much as 80 percent, saving billions in health-care costs annually, said Debbie Jordan, an EPA administrator who attended Thursday's hearing at the Westin hotel.
The rule would apply to all large freight ships visiting U.S. seaports and would be phased in incrementally over the coming decade."
Kristopher Hanson reports for the Contra Costa Times August 6, 2009.