The U.S. Coast Guard has been a maritime steward of the environment dating as far back as the 1820’s when the Revenue Cutter Service was assigned to protect timber reserves, used for shipbuilding, in Florida.
As operations and demands changed over the years, the Coast Guard has expanded its environmental protection services including whale and rookeries protection, seal preservation, unauthorized substance discharge and ballast water regulations.
In more recent years, air pollution has emerged as a threat to our seas. Large marine vessels operating on or near our shores every day release stack emissions like nitrogen oxide that pollute our environment, oceans and atmosphere. The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that without any further action, emissions of nitrogen oxide could double by 2030, growing to 2.1 million tons per year.
To combat this growing trend, the Coast Guard has partnered with the EPA to help monitor and enforce air pollution regulations for ships operating in U.S. waters. Under a new Memorandum of Understanding, the Coast Guard and EPA will perform inspections and investigations on marine vessels and take appropriate actions if violations are found.
“[The] agreement forges a strong partnership between EPA and the U.S. Coast Guard, advancing our shared commitment to enforce air emissions standards for ships operating in U.S. waters,” said Cynthia Giles, assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. “Reducing harmful air pollution is a priority for EPA and by working with the Coast Guard we will ensure that the ships moving through our waters meet their environmental obligations, protecting our nation’s air quality and the health of our coastal communities.”
“This agreement demonstrates the Coast Guard’s long-standing commitment to protecting our nation’s marine environment,” said Rear Adm. Kevin Cook, director of Prevention Policy for the Coast Guard. “Aligning our capabilities with EPA enhances that commitment while minimizing the impact on shipping.”
Strengthening partnerships with other federal, state and local agencies helps ensure the Coast Guard continues to adapt and overcome challenges to the environment.