Oceangoing ships face strict new pollution rules
Observers hoping for an epic pirate battle at the latest meeting of the International Maritime Organization were disappointed yesterday, when the group quietly and without controversy passed landmark restrictions on pollution emitted by oceangoing vessels. By July 2010, the 300,000 ships that travel the world’s seas must cut the sulfur content of the fuel they use in coastal areas by 63 percent, chugging toward 95 percent cuts by January 2015. Because ship-spewed airborne emissions contribute to as many as 60,000 premature deaths a year, environmental groups and local governments have pushed for a sea change in port pollution. In fact, it turns out there’s some hope for fans of salty swordplay after all: Since each country must set a coastal boundary within which the new restrictions apply, advocates of human and planetary health are preparing to face off with the shipping industry over the size of the rule-prone areas. Avast!