California Air Resources Board Extends Deadline For Vessel And Terminal Operators Affected By At-Berth Regulation To Submit Updated Compliance Plans To October 1, 2016

In December 2007, the California Air Resources Board (“ARB”) approved the “Airborne Toxic Control Measure for Auxiliary Diesel Engines Operated on Ocean-Going Vessels At-Berth in a California Port” Regulation, commonly referred to as the “At-Berth Regulation.”

The purpose of the At-Berth Regulation is to reduce diesel particulate matter (PM) and nitrogen oxides (NOx) emissions generated from the operation of diesel auxiliary engines on container ships, passenger ships, and refrigerated-cargo ships (“Affected Fleets”) when they are berthed at the following California ports: Los Angeles, Long Beach, Oakland, San Diego, San Francisco, and Hueneme (each a “California Port”).  The At-Berth Regulation applies to and affects:

  • Vessel operators of container and refrigerated-cargo ships whose vessels cumulatively make twenty-five (25) or more visits annually to one California Port, and operators of passenger-ship fleets whose vessels cumulatively make five (5) or more visits annually to one California port.
  • Terminal operators at California Ports who receive fifty (50) or more visits annually from ships within an Affected Fleet.

Auxiliary Diesel Engine Operational Limits and Compliance Plan Submission Requirements

The At-Berth Regulation limits the number of hours during which ships in Affected Fleets may operate their diesel auxiliary engines while at berth, i.e., three (3) or five (5) hours per visit depending on whether or not a ship employs a synchronous power transfer process.  The At-Berth Regulations also require auxiliary diesel engine power generation of an Affected Fleet to be reduced in relation to the fleets’ baseline power generation.

Affected vessel operators have two options to meet these requirements: turn off a vessel’s diesel auxiliary engines and connect to some other source of power, most likely grid-based shore power; or use alternative control technology that achieve equivalent emission reductions (e.g. barge mounted emission capture systems).  As illustrated by the following chart, both of these requirements are scheduled to become more stringent over time.

By January 1, 2014:

  • 50% of Affected Fleet Required to Meet Hour Per Visit Limitation
  • Achieve 50% Reduction of Affected Fleets’ Auxiliary Diesel Engine Power Generation in Relation To Fleets’ Baseline Power Generation

By January 1, 2017:

  • 70% of Affected Fleet Required to Meet Hour Per Visit Limitation
  • Achieve 70% Reduction of Affected Fleets’ Auxiliary Diesel Engine Power Generation in Relation To Fleets’ Baseline Power Generation

By January 1, 2020:

  • 80% of Affected Fleet Required to Meet Hour Per Visit Limitation
  • Achieve 80% Reduction of Affected Fleets’ Auxiliary Diesel Engine Power Generation in Relation To Fleets’ Baseline Power Generation

On July 1, 2013, affected vessel operators were required to submit to ARB their plans for complying with the At-Berth Regulation’s January 1, 2014 requirements.  Currently, the At-Berth Regulation requires affected vessel operators to submit updated versions of their plans to ARB by July 1, 2016, which address how they intend to comply with the standards coming into effect on January 1, 2017.

Similarly, affected terminal operators must provide updated plans to ARB by July 1, 2016, regarding their plans for how they intend to provide the necessary infrastructure for Affected Fleets to comply with the At-Berth Regulation’s auxiliary diesel engine operational limits.

ARB Delays Updated Compliance Plan Submission Deadline to Allow Affected Vessel and Terminal Operators to Account For Guidance Expected in Forthcoming Regulatory Advisory Notice

On Friday, June 24, 2016, ARB issued a statement advising that vessel and terminal operators affected by the At-Berth Regulation will have until October 1, 2016, to submit their updated compliance plans to ARB.  The extension is to allow affected vessel and terminal operators to consider a forthcoming regulatory advisory notice that ARB will be issuing.  The notice is expected to address ARB’s review of certain compliance obstacles that ARB recognizes are largely outside the control of affected vessel and terminal operators.

Such obstacles include but are not limited to third-party interference (e.g., pilots, customs agents, and stevedores) with vessels’ ability to connect to shore power, availability of berths with shore power infrastructure, the fact that the At-Berth Regulation does not currently exclude port visits at which a vessel’s shore power connection system is commissioned, and fleet redeployments.

To the extent an affected vessel or terminal operator has already submitted an updated compliance plan, they will be allowed to submit an amended, updated compliance plan should they choose to do so, in light of ARB’s forthcoming regulatory advisory notice.  Reporting forms for both affected vessel and terminal operators are available here.

Keesal, Young & Logan Maritime Law Group

This information has been prepared by Keesal, Young & Logan for informational purposes only and is not legal advice. Transmission of the information is not intended to create, and receipt does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship between you and Keesal, Young & Logan. You should not act upon this information without seeking professional counsel.