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Carter Secures EPA Action on Marine Diesel Engines Providing Much Needed Relief for Bar Pilot Boat Captains

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Washington, August 21, 2020 | comments
After working with Congressman Earl L. "Buddy" Carter (R-Ga.), U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Andrew Wheeler finalized amendments to the national marine diesel engine program to address the lack of available certified Tier 4 marine diesel engines for use in certain high-speed commercial vessels. This final rule provides much needed relief to boat builders and manufacturers of lightweight and high-power marine diesel engines. 

Specifically, this action will provide relief to hardworking bar pilot boat captains in Georgia and across the country who rely on these engines for safety and productive operations in their high-speed commercial vessels.

“This is great news for the First District and our ports,” said Congressman Earl L. “Buddy” Carter. “This rule will ensure bar pilots in Savannah and Brunswick are able to get the boats they need to do their jobs. Without this change to the rules, the pilots could have been forced to scale back their critical work which is required for every ship to enter and exit both the Ports of Savannah and Brunswick. The ports could have been devastated without this rule change. Instead, they will now be able to keep cargo traffic moving. I thank the EPA for their hard work on this issue.”

“This relief gives boat builders and operators flexibility to meet EPA standards during the next several years,” s
aid EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler. “Lobstermen and pilot boat captains are at a particular disadvantage when changes in emission rules occur, because the larger market for diesel engines can’t build new models quickly enough for marine users – putting these operators in potential violation of pollution rules through no fault of their own.”

Background from the EPA:

Without the relief that the Agency is providing, boat builders would be unable to build these types of high-speed vessels, leaving those in the market for a new boat the choice between either purchasing underpowered, unsuitable vessels or using existing vessels with older, dirtier engines.

This final action amends EPA’s existing rules to allow for the continued installation of Tier 3 engines in new vessels for a limited time – until 2022 or 2024, depending upon the size and type of vessel. This in turn will help those boat builders who have found themselves unable to obtain the certified engines they need to construct the specialized vessels with the size and power characteristics required by their customers, such as lobster fisherman and bar pilot boat operators. There are currently at least 35 pilot boats operating in 21 major ports across EPA Region 4, and this action provides relief which will allow operators to replace older vessels with newer and cleaner vessels without sacrificing safety. In addition, the final amendments provide for a waiver process to accommodate the situation where suitable Tier 4 engines continue to be unavailable in the future.

The rule also streamlines the engine certification process aimed at reducing engine manufacturer compliance and certification costs. This is intended to promote entry into the market engines with the sort of high power density characteristics that these specialized, high performance vessels will continue to require, facilitating the retirement of older vessels with dirtier engines and their replacement by new vessels utilizing cleaner high-performance Tier 4 engines.

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