On Friday, the International Maritime Organization (IMO) passed a regulation requiring cruise ships, tankers and cargo ships to switch to low-sulfur fuel when they operate within 230 miles of the U.S. and Canada.
As reported in the Houston Chronicle, the new regulations should cut emissions linked to thousands of illnesses and premature deaths each year, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.
The United States and Canada requested the IMO to pass the new regulations to protect their nations' air quality and keep their citizens healthy.
The Houston Chronicle reports that the ships which will be affected by the new rules are almost exclusively foreign flagged and operated - like Princess Cruises' Coral Princess cruise ship, left.
These ships burn a tar-like, nasty sludge known as "bunker fuel," which we have discussed in prior articles. The sludge contains sulfur levels significantly greater than U.S. law allows for other diesel engines and is a major source of tiny, airborne particulates which cause cancer and lung disease.
The newspaper article also indicates that the new restrictions will cut allowable levels of sulfur in fuel by 98 percent, soot by 85 percent and smog-forming pollution by 80 percent.
The cruise industry's trade group, the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), fought against the new pollution regulations, arguing that the switch to low-sulfur fuels would decrease cruise line profits. If the cruise lines had their way, they would choose to burn bunker fuel - like Princess Cruises' cruise ship, the Coral Princess, smoking up the port in Alaska (above).
After the IMO passed the new regulations, CLIA issued a statement that it supports the “goals and intent” of the new pollution buffer zone.
Over the next few years, you will see the cruise industry try and avoid the new IMO rules.
Princess Cruises' Coral Princess AlaskanLibrarian's Flickr photostream