Charleston Communities for Cruise Control applauds City Council for finally supporting the addition of shore power at a new cruise ship terminal.
Some have wondered if shore power is needed now.
The answer is yes.
FACT: The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency assisted with calculations that show in 2015 - after new fuel standards are fully in place - that one engine running on a cruise ship while in port will still produce harmful sulfur dioxide air emissions comparable to over 34,000 idling tractor trailers. Using shore power would reduce harmful nitrogen oxide emissions by 97 percent, carbon monoxide by 92 percent and particulate soot by 34 percent. These reductions will be even larger as SCE&G reduces the use of coal-fired power plants.
FACT: Both the Charleston County Medical Society and the South Carolina Medical Association have endorsed shore power, recognizing the documented harmful health implications of cruise ship emissions. Hospitals in Brooklyn have seen a reduction in the number of pediatric visits by children with asthma since the installation of shore power.
FACT: Cruise ships currently equipped for shore power that visit Charleston cannot utilize it, such as the Carnival Splendor last month.
FACT: A study by Schneider Electric shows that cruise ships using shore power can save over $500,000 per year in fuel costs.
FACT: City Council has already created a no-smoking zone around the medical complex and the State Ports Authority promotes "no idling" by trucks. But for 10 hours a day, 70 or more days a year, cruise ships idle at Union Pier, spewing soot and harmful agents into Charleston's air. This should be of even greater concern.
The problem can be fixed. Other port cities have managed to install shore power to eliminate the health risk and soot nuisance.
FACT: Shore power facilities would cost money. But the SPA by law must consider mitigation of the impact of its operations on residents, and the cost is worth the health of Charleston's residents. Our state legislators have proposed providing the money, and other cities have found creative ways to partner with state and federal agencies and utilities.
The SPA has announced that Carnival will be experimentally retrofitting the Fantasy with scrubbers in late 2015. This is an economic decision by Carnival to scrub low cost fuel rather than switch to higher cost cleaner fuel. But in no event can burning fuel be as effective as shore power while in port. As a good corporate citizen and regular visitor to Charleston, Carnival should consider retrofitting for shore power as money well spent. Cruise ships continue to be upgraded/manufactured with shore power technology
FACT: The cruise industry's Cruise Line International Association supports shore power as a way to reduce air pollution from cruise ships. And Carnival Cruise Lines has fitted several ships such as the Conquest for use of shore power. The cruise terminal in Brooklyn is installing shore power not because the law requires it to, but because it is the right thing to do.
Shore power makes sense for Charleston.
And it makes particular sense when considering SPA's new terminal, which would be sized to host ships with 3,500 passengers - almost 50 percent more passengers than the ship based here now.
Foresight is necessary to protect our historic city, citizens and visitors from further harm.
There is no question about it.
Carrie Agnew is executive director of Charleston Communities for Cruise Control.