County Air Pollution Agency Files Intent to Sue EPA

October 22, 2007

Terry Dressler, Air Pollution Control Officer: 805.961.8853
Bill Dillon, County Counsel: 805.568.2950

EPA?s Failure to Regulate Large Ships Prompts Action

SANTA BARBARA, CA ?Santa Barbara County Air Pollution Control District (APCD) announced today its intent to sue the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) over the EPA?s failure to regulate pollution from large ship engines, as required under the federal Clean Air Act. ?Ships passing through the Santa Barbara Channel produce many tons of air pollution off our coast, threatening our air quality. We have called on EPA repeatedly to issue regulations without success. Litigation is always the last resort, but we have exhausted our other options,? says APCD Director Terry Dressler.

Most recently, APCD sent the EPA a letter on May 8, 2007 expressing concern that the federal agency did not issue ship regulations by April 27, 2007, a deadline that was set in EPA?s rule adopted in January of 2003. APCD did not receive any response to the May letter.

APCD?s notice of intent to file a Clean Air Act Citizen Suit was sent to EPA Thursday, October 18, after the APCD Board approved the action by a 9 to 0 vote. The notice of intent to sue is the required first step in the process; the lawsuit can then be filed sixty days after the initial notice of intent to sue. Dressler emphasizes that the lawsuit might not be filed if the EPA takes action in the next sixty days.

Large ships are one of the last uncontrolled and unregulated major sources of air pollution. Their massive two-stroke engines produce as much power as a small power plant and burn an unrefined and dirty fuel. APCD estimates that ocean-going ships emit more than 45 percent of the emissions of nitrogen oxides (NOx) in the county. While not all of this pollution affects onshore air quality, the APCD also projects that, left unregulated, the ships could contribute almost 75 percent of the county?s NOx pollution by 2020.

Notes Dressler, ?Over the last 30 years we have seen dramatic improvement in the county?s air quality, despite significant growth in population and vehicle miles traveled. We need EPA to regulate this huge source of pollution to ensure we can sustain this clean-air progress.?

For more information, including copies of APCD letters to EPA, and APCD Board Actions in this area since 2001, see this page.


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