The California Air Resources Board is smirking. After all the vituperation it has endured for attacking pollution and environment so fiercely, the IMO agrees to cast a 200 mile net around the US and Canada
Under the new IMO rules, vessels traveling within the 200-mile control area will have until July of this year to use fuel with no more than 15,000 parts per million. Sulfur content of fuel used in the control areas must be no greater than 10,000 parts per million by the end of the year and no more than 1,000 parts per million by 2015.
By my reckoning, those limits are almost the same as the California Air Resources Board's intended restrictions within the 24 nautical mile range (which call for 1.5 percent sulfur in marine gas oil for main engines at the moment, reducing to 0.1 percent in 2012).Which is cause for concern, because California could well be getting too big for its boots.
At the risk of sounding facetious, California is quite likely to end up twanging its metaphorical braces and declaring that whatever it does today, the rest of the world will do in five years time. Intricate and detailed lawsuits brought by the Pacific Merchant Shipping Association to reign in the self-imposed imperial style of governance are being rendered meaningless. California bureaucrats now have every reason to sneer, making lawsuits drag on, confident that their example will be copied at some stage.
Make no mistake, California was also keen to make a 200 mile limit and in fact the bureaucrats were divided, with the dictatorial faction losing out to the moderates.
Next up of course is the Vessel Speed Reduction program, limiting ships to 12 knots when 12 and 24 nautical miles off shore. Still in the investigation stage, just when this program will start is unknown, but there is no doubt it will become an absolute rule within 18 months. And why stop at 40 miles? Two hundred miles probably seems an eminently suitable range.
No one denies that pollution controls are essential. It's just that officials tend to get carried away by their own power and push this power to absurd lengths. California is showing this tendency, which brings to mind the tale of ancient Britain's King Canute, the waves and the tides.