The Great Lakes region needs air pollution control – a source of illness and even death in our region – and there are new standards proposed in the Energy and Water spending bill that would stop ships from belching such pollution. But the shipping industry is balking and has been strong arming Great Lakes Congressmen– and at least one of our champions – is buckling under the pressure and offering a loophole for ships in our region.
The proposed ban would end the use of high-sulfur fuel within 200 miles of any coast – including rivers and lakes – and the EPA would like to include nitrogen oxide controls on all new engines put on US ships. When ships spit out these noxious emissions that create poor air quality and acid rain young children and the elderly with respiratory illnesses such as asthma suffer. But the Lake Carrier’s Association, a group that represents less than 100 ships on the Great Lakes, says the law will cause economic hardship upon their industry by doubling the cost of fuel each year. And they have convinced lawmakers to offer a loophole making the requirements less stringent for ships operating on the Great Lakes.
Once again, our region’s public health is put in jeopardy in order to line the pockets of others. Didn’t we learn anything from the industrial and chemical revolutions? And it isn’t just people that suffer, but the health of the lakes themselves and the wildlife and plant life that they support. Clearly, Great Lakes ships should be made to adhere to the same pollution standards set for all of America’s coastal communities.