Make us your home page

Cruise ship industry fights cleaner-fuel rule

Carnival’s Imagination passes Miami Beach as it leaves the Port of Miami. Cleaner fuel costs more than the sulfur-rich bunker oil used today, which adds to air pollution miles inland. Canada and the United States had agreed to coastal emissions control.

Associated Press (2011)

Carnival’s Imagination passes Miami Beach as it leaves the Port of Miami. Cleaner fuel costs more than the sulfur-rich bunker oil used today, which adds to air pollution miles inland. Canada and the United States had agreed to coastal emissions control.

WASHINGTON — The heavy fuel that oceangoing vessels burn adds so much to air pollution hundreds of miles inland that the United States joined with Canada during President George W. Bush's administration to ask the International Maritime Organization to create an emissions-control area along the coasts. Large ships would be required to reduce pollution dramatically in a zone 200 miles out to sea along all the coasts of North America, mainly by using cleaner fuel.

The cargo-shipping industry supported the stringent emission reductions. The cruise ship industry, however, wants an emissions-averaging plan that would allow it to burn the same heavy fuel it always has used in some areas, and it's lobbying Congress for help.

The industry's lobbying group in Washington has gotten Democratic and Republican lawmakers to press the Environmental Protection Agency to look favorably on the industry's averaging plan. The EPA is pushing back, saying the industry's plan would lead to an increase in emissions. For now, the EPA is unyielding, but pressure is building.

The emissions-control area goes into effect in August. The International Maritime Organization plan requires fuel with less sulfur inside the zone, with reductions phased in through 2015. Bush and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper agreed to the approach in 2006.

Cleaner fuel costs more than the sulfur-rich bunker oil that ships use today. The EPA estimated that the price increase on a seven-day Alaska cruise would be 1.5 to 6 percent.

The online trade publication Sustainable Shipping reported that cruise companies don't want to pass on too much of the cost for fear of reducing customer demand, so the industry's profits might decline. A study for the industry projected fewer cruises to Alaska, Canada and the Caribbean, as well as job losses. The Port of Tampa's thriving cruise ship business could also be adversely affected.

Miami-based Carnival Corp., the world's biggest cruise company, reported $1.9 billion in profits last year. Carnival spokesman Aly Bello-Cabreriza declined to comment and referred questions to the industry lobby group, Cruise Lines International Association. Other cruise companies also declined to comment.

Cruise Lines International Association has proposed a complicated emissions-averaging plan that would allow ships to continue to burn high-sulfur fuel sometimes. An advantage would be lower costs, said Charles Darr, the association's director of environmental and health programs,.

The method would allow a ship to vary its emissions based on such issues as weather conditions and location. Ships would switch to cleaner fuels near heavily populated areas.

Democratic Sens. Bill Nelson of Florida and Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell of Washington state have written to the EPA asking it to consider the industry's proposal. Nelson was the top Senate recipient of cruise ship industry donations last year. He received $19,200, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, a nonpartisan research group.

A bipartisan group of House members, led by John Mica, R-Fla., the chairman of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, sent the EPA a letter of support for the cruise line association's plan in March.

Cruise ship industry fights cleaner-fuel rule 05/01/12 [Last modified: Tuesday, May 1, 2012 9:05pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

Copyright: For copyright information, please check with the distributor of this item, Tribune News Service.

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Amid U.S. real estate buying binge by foreign investors, Florida remains first choice

    Real Estate

    Foreign investment in U.S. residential real estate recently skyrocketed to a new high with nearly half of all foreign sales happening in Florida, California and Texas.

    A National Association of Realtors annual survey found record volume and activity by foreign buyers of U.S. real estate. Florida had the highest foreign investment activity, followed by California and Texas. [National Association of Realtors]
  2. Trigaux: Tampa Bay health care leaders wary of getting too far ahead in disruptive times


    Are attempts to repeal Obamacare dead for the foreseeable future? Might the Affordable Care Act (ACA), now in dire limbo, be revived? Will Medicaid coverage for the most in need be gutted? Can Republicans now in charge of the White House, Senate and House ever agree to deliver a substitute health care plan that people …

    Natalia Ricabal of Lutz, 12 years old, joined other pediatric cancer patients in Washington in July to urge Congress to protect Medicaid coverage that helped patients like Ricabal fight cancer. She was diagnosed with Ewing's sarcoma in 2013 and has undergone extensive treatments at BayCare's St. Joseph's Children's Hospital in Tampa. [Courtesy of BayCare]
  3. The Iron Yard coding academy to close in St. Petersburg


    ST. PETERSBURG — The Iron Yard, a code-writing academy with a location in downtown St. Petersburg, will close for good this summer.

    Instructors (from left) Mark Dewey, Jason Perry, and Gavin Stark greet the audience at The Iron Yard, 260 1st Ave. S, in St. Petersburg during "Demo Day" Friday, Oct. 7, 2016, at The Iron Yard, which is an immersive code school that is part of a trend of trying to address the shortage of programmers.  The academy is closing this summer.  [LARA CERRI   |   Times]
  4. Florida's unemployment rate drops for fourth straight month


    Unemployment in Florida hit a 10-year low in June, clocking in at 4.1 percent, down from 4.3 percent in May. The state added 19,400 jobs over the month, and saw growth in most industries. But there's one glaring missing piece to the economic recovery puzzle: wage growth.

    Florida's unemployment level dropped to 4.1 percent in June from 4.3 percent in May. |  [Times file photo]
  5. Is sinkhole damage sinking Tampa Bay property values?

    Real Estate

    On a scale of desirability, the house for sale on Whittner Drive in Land O' Lakes would rank fairly low. It's a short sale; it sits on an unstabilized sinkhole and it's within a few miles of two houses that collapsed into a gargantuan hole July 14.

    A gated community in Hernando's Spring Hill area, Pristine Place has long been susceptible to sinkholes with nearly a third of its houses with documented sinkhole damage by 2012. Today, however, many houses with repaired sinkhole damage are selling for more than houses without any issues. [WILL VRAGOVIC   |   Times file photo]