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ARB Exploring Amendments to OGV Fuel Regulation to Increase Compliance, Keep Ships Out of Naval Weapons Range Area

By Green Car Congress on 10/17/2010 – 7:50 am PDTLeave a Comment

The California Air Resources Board (ARB) recently held a workshop to discuss proposed amendments to the Regulations for Fuel Sulfur and Other Operational Requirements for ocean-going vessels (OGV). (Earlier post.) A number of OGVs have apparently adjusted their usual courses, taking them out of the regulated zone, but also further into the US Navy’s Pt. Mugu Sea Range—which is used as a weapons range.

Changes in ship routes has disrupted some activity in the Pt. Mugu Sea Range. Source: US Navy. Click to enlarge.

The OGV Fuel Regulation was adopted by the ARB in 2008 and implementation began
on 1 July 2009. It requires OGVs to use less polluting marine
distillate fuels instead of heavy fuel oil within a designated area along the California
coastline. The use of the less polluting marine distillate fuels results in significant
reductions in diesel particulate matter (PM), PM, sulfur oxides (SOx), oxides of nitrogen
(NOx), and “secondarily” formed PM (PM formed in the atmosphere from NOx and

Prior to the implementation of the OGV Regulation, the majority of OGVs going into and
out of the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach traveled along the California coastline
through the Santa Barbara Channel. In the Santa Barbara Channel, there is a traffic
separation scheme established the Commandant of the US Coast Guard under the Ports and Waterways Safety Act and in accordance with international agreements.

However, soon after the effective date of the OGV Fuel Regulation, a large number of
OGVs chose to move from their traditional route through the Santa Barbara Channel,
which lies within the zone covered by the OGV Fuel Regulation, to a route on the
Southern side of the Channel Islands, an area outside of the regulated zone. Because
vessels on the Southern side of the Channel Islands do not have to use the cleaner
marine distillate fuels required by the OGV Fuel Regulation, this change in routes has
reduced the expected emissions reductions from the regulation.

In addition, this route on the Southern side of the Channel Islands goes through the
US Navy’s Pt. Mugu Sea Range. With a larger number of OGVs choosing to go
through the Sea Range, the potential for these vessels to interfere with military
operations in the Pt. Mugu Sea Range has increased.

In a presentation at the workshop, the Navy said that it had to delay a major missile exercise and cancel two advanced weapons tests due to the increased traffic.

Proposed clean fuel zone extension. Source: ARB. Click to enlarge.

To recapture the emissions benefits of the regulation and to reduce vessel traffic through the range, ARB is considering extending the clean fuel zone in Souther California to remove the economic incentive for ships to alter their course (the higher sulfur fuel is less costly).

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