LONG BEACH, Calif. -- International Longshore and Warehouse Union President Robert McEllrath criticized shipping lines Wednesday for opposing a California regulation requiring ocean vessels to burn low-sulfur diesel fuel in their auxiliary engines within 24 miles of the coast.
A U.S. district court over the weekend struck down the California Air Resources Board requirement, which took effect on Jan. 1. The Pacific Merchant Shipping Association, which represents most of the carriers that call at California's ports, had filed suit charging that the state's jurisdiction is limited to three nautical miles from the coast.
"Big shipping companies should be using cleaner fuel now instead of opposing improvements we need to protect our kids and communities," McEllrath stated in a press release.
U.S. District Court Judge William Shubb ruled that California must seek an exemption from the federal Clean Air Act if the state intends to regulate vessel emissions out to 24 nautical miles from the coast.
After the ruling was issued, the PMSA board of directors advised its member lines to continue the use of low-sulfur fuel but to do so within three miles of the coastline.
This move did not satisfy the ILWU.
"If shipping companies were serious about cleaning up the air, they'd voluntarily burn cleaner fuel out 24 miles and beyond," McEllrath said. He added that Maersk Line and APL deserve praise for voluntarily adopting cleaner fuel policies for their vessels.