Those insisting that it is not necessary to institute enforceable restrictions on air emissions from cruise ships in Charleston could be leaning on a weak reed.
They reject pleas to require shoreside electrical service to power cruise ships while they are docked. Any concerns people have about emissions that are spewed when the ship idles at dock for hours will be eliminated, they say, because of new emissions standards imposed by the Environmental Protection Agency.
Certainly new EPA rules will require cruise ships, beginning Aug. 1, to use cleaner fuel to help safeguard port communities, and inland cities, from pollutants that are injurious to people’s health.
But the wealthy cruise industry is reportedly spending millions of dollars lobbying Congress to reconsider the rule because of its expense. Cruise companies contend that the cost of upfitting ships and purchasing cleaner fuel will add as much as $19.46 a day to each passenger’s ticket. The EPA estimates the boost to be more like $7 a day.
Until it is sure that the regulations will stand and that the cruise industry will abide by them, people who live or work in the area of the passenger terminal should not get complacent.
And even if ships comply and burn cleaner fuel, using shoreside power reduces emissions even more. A number of ports have added shoreside power even knowing that the EPA standards were set to tighten up on emissions. Don’t Charleston and its environs deserve clean air, too?
Besides the obvious health benefits, shoreside power is quieter — a welcome reprieve from noise for neighbors and passengers alike.
The EPA estimates that just reducing sulfur in fuel will avoid from 12,000 to 31,000 premature deaths each year by 2030. Emissions have been associated with lung disease, cancer, asthma and emphysema.
The cruise industry should consider the increased expense justifiable because it saves lives and spares people’s health, just as the port should consider adding shoreside power for the well-being of its neighbors.