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November 22, 2019  |  Written by Alyson E. Ackerman

California Air Resources Board Seeks to Expand Scope of Shore-Power Requirements

The California Air Resources Board (CARB) generally requires fleets of certain ocean-going vessels (OGV) meeting or exceeding a threshold number of visits to specific California ports to turn off their diesel auxiliary engines and plug in to a shore-based power source for lighting, pumps, communication, and other onboard equipment while at-berth under its “At-Berth Regulation.”  CARB now seeks to expand the scope of the At-Berth Regulation by increasing the types of OGV subject to the regulation, as well as the ports and terminals that must comply with its requirements (Proposed Regulation).

CARB is conducting a public hearing to consider the Proposed Regulation on December 5, 2019 at 10:00 a.m. in Oakland, California.  Stakeholders and interested parties are encouraged to provide comments.  Written comments must be submitted by December 2, 2019; however, CARB will accept oral comments at the hearing.

At-Berth Regulation

CARB promulgated the At-Berth Regulation in 2007.  Currently, the At-Berth Regulation applies only at California’s largest ports:  Los Angeles, Long Beach, Oakland, San Francisco, San Diego, and Hueneme (collectively, “California Ports”).  The At-Berth Regulation groups OGV by the cargo carried – auto, bulk/general cargo, passenger, refrigerated cargo, roll-on roll-offs, and container and tankers.  The number of visits a fleet of OGV makes to a California Port generally triggers the applicability of the At-Berth Regulation.

Fleets of container or refrigerated cargo vessels making 25 or more visits per year to a California Port, as well as a fleet of passenger vessels making five or more visits per year to a California Port, are subject to the At-Berth Regulation.  Fleets of OVG making fewer visits than the standards above are generally exempt.  A “visit” is the time when an OGV is initially tied to a berth to when it casts off the lines at the end of a visit.

A fleet operator may use an alternative control technology in lieu of shore-power to achieve the necessary emissions reductions percentage.  One such CARB-approved alterative control technology is a barge-based capture and control system that treats emissions from auxiliary diesel engines on OGV.

Proposed Regulation

The Proposed Regulation expands the scope of the At-Berth Regulation.  First, it will regulate roll-on roll-off vessels, tanker vessels, and those OGV that were below the visits per year threshold under the At-Berth Regulation.  Thus, all container, refrigerated cargo, passenger, roll-on roll-off, and/or tanker OGV visiting a regulated terminal must either connect to shore-power or use an alternative control technology.  The Proposed Regulation also takes an “every vessel, every visit” approach, rather than using fleet-wide visits per year thresholds from the At-Berth Regulation.  Bulk/general cargo vessels and their associated berths, terminals, and ports receiving only bulk/general cargo vessels are not subject to the Proposed Regulation.

The Proposed Regulation will impose emissions control requirements at any port or independent marine terminal exceeding a specific threshold of visit activity.  Where a terminal exceeds the threshold of annual visits, the Proposed Regulation requires the terminal to submit a plan to CARB explaining how it will control emissions from OGV activity.  After exceeding the applicable threshold for two consecutive years, the terminal will be subject to the control requirements of the Proposed Regulation.  CARB proposes a “once in, always in” approach, so a subsequent drop in a terminal’s activity will not affect its regulatory obligations.

The Proposed Regulation, if adopted, is effective January 1, 2021, yet will “phase-in” compliance for the various types of regulated OGV.

For more information about the At-Berth Regulation and other air quality matters, please contact Alyson E. Ackerman at aackerman@somachlaw.com or 916-469-3843, or Michael E. Vergara at mvergara@somachlaw.com or 916-469-3824.

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