The Environmental Protection Agency yesterday announced the proposed introduction of emissions control areas (ECAs) around the coast of America. This action aims to protect Amercian citizens living and working in and around America’s coastal regions by decreasing the amount of air pollution caused by the harmful emissions released by oil tankers and ships, and would see an area of 230 miles of the American coastline designated as a buffer zone.
Earthjustice, a public interest law group who act on behalf of organisations, groups and coalitions to help strengthen and enforce environmental laws, have challenged EPA’s proposal however, as it omits the arctic waters of Alaska. One of Earthjustice’s attourneys from their environmental law program, Sarah Burt, commented that,
“By initiating this process, EPA has taken an important step forward in protecting the health of port communities and the coastal environment from harmful ship pollution. However, by failing to include most of the waters off the coast of Alaska, EPA has left a gaping hole in the nation’s environmental and human health protections.”
This omission is of particular concern due to the anticipated melting of sea ice around Alaska that would leave the route open for more ships and tankers to be passing through this delicate eco-system. Earthjustice have submitted a letter to the EPA requesting the amendment of the policy to extend the area of the ECA to cover the Alaskan coast.