US DOT supports environmental protection

President Obama has taken action to build the foundation for a clean energy economy, tackle the issue of climate change and protect our environment.

The maritime industry understands and embraces this thinking not only because it makes sense, but also as it will be essential to future viability of marine transportation. The industry continues to take a leading role in environmental responsibility and the U.S. Maritime Administration (MARAD) is helping them chart the course.

With two recently released reports examining storage and bunkering options for Liquid Natural Gas (LNG) and providing vital data on natural gas emissions, US MARAD's Office of Environment and Safety is providing information the industry needs to transition to cleaner burning fuels. And by identifying potential challenges and recommending best practices and new standards, US MARAD is working to streamline the development of a transportation network that supports the integration of natural gas as a marine fuel.

Another step forward was taken with approval of a $324.6 million Title XI loan guarantee to TOTE Shipholdings, Inc., a 2014 White House Transportation Champion of Change, to finance construction of two container ships that will use LNG as propulsion fuel.

The US MARAD Title XI Loan Guarantee program promotes the growth and modernization of U.S. shipyards and the U.S. Merchant Marine by ensuring that American vessels are manufactured in American shipyards by American workers. Supporting TOTE with the loan guarantee signed yesterday will do exactly that.

The vessels are being constructed at General Dynamics - NASSCO in San Diego. Construction of the two vessels will generate up to 600 jobs at NASSCO and support companies throughout the Nation that supply the materials and equipment. Once completed, the ships will carry freight between the Port of Jacksonville and Puerto Rico, providing 60 jobs for U.S. Merchant Mariners.

The two ships will operate primarily under LNG power, using light diesel as needed. The their new engines will reduce the particulate emissions to levels well below EPA mandates and coupled with reductions in sulfur oxides (SOx) and nitrogen oxides (NOx), these vessels will be the most environmentally friendly container ships in the world.

Adding these ships to Jacksonville-Puerto Rico trade service will also increase the available volume of refrigeration equipment used for shipping. This is critical to ensuring that pharmaceuticals, produce, and other products vital to the residents of Puerto Rico are delivered in the best possible condition.

Since President Obama took office, domestic energy-related emissions have fallen to their lowest level in 20 years. However, there are significant opportunities for further innovation and this Administration will partner with industry where possible to take advantage of them.

Maritime industry is moving steadily forward on renewable energy and clean-fuel options even as the industry increases shipping efficiencies that benefit American consumers.

The end result --with key support from US MARAD-- is a maritime industry that is the safest, most efficient, and cleanest transportation option available.

Source and Image Credit: U.S. DOT