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CARB passes amendments to commercial harbor craft regulation

25 March 2022

The California Air Resources Board (CARB) approved updates to its Commercial Harbor Craft Regulation aimed at reducing emissions from harbor craft like tugboats and ferries operated near California’s coast.

The current commercial harbor craft (CHC) regulation accelerated the move to US EPA Tier 2 and Tier 3 engines for select categories beginning in 2009 through 2022. The new amendments apply more stringent requirements to in-use and new vessels, expand the regulatory requirements to vessel categories that were previously exempt from in-use vessel requirements, and apply reporting, infrastructure, and other requirements onto facilities that conduct business with CHC.

The new amendments require zero-emission options where feasible, and cleaner combustion Tier 3 and Tier 4 engines (US EPA marine or nonroad regulations) on all other vessels. In addition, the amendments require the use of diesel particulate filters (Tier 3 + DPF or Tier 4 + DPF) on affected vessels. The DPFs must be CARB-verified Level 3 emission control devices.

Short run ferries, which include those traveling less than three nautical miles over a single run, will be required to be fully zero-emission by the end of 2025. New excursion vessels, such as vessels offering whale watching or dinner cruises, are also required to be capable of operating with at least 30% of the power from a zero‑emission source.

The approved amendments include, for all vessel categories, compliance flexibilities such as fleet averaging or additional compliance time on other vessels in a fleet if a zero-emission vessel is deployed where it is feasible but not required.

The amendments affect all categories of commercial harbor craft and establish the first emission standard requirements for commercial passenger fishing vessels, pilot vessels, tank barges over 400 feet, workboats and research vessels. These vessels are required to use cleaner engine fuel to reduce emissions under the current regulation, but they were not required to upgrade to cleaner engines previously.

The adopted amendments will begin phasing in starting in 2023 through the end of 2032. CARB incorporated compliance extensions for some vessel categories that would not have to upgrade until the end of 2034 if the vessel owner applies for and receives an extension if a replacement vessel is required but cannot be afforded. A one-time ten-year extension option is provided for commercial passenger fishing vessels until 2035 if a vessel is equipped with all Tier 3 engines by the end of 2024.

In addition, CARB directed staff to establish a technical working group and provide updates to the Board every two years beginning in 2024. Updates would include the status of commercial harbor craft technology advancement that staff would use to explore future opportunities to adopt more stringent zero-emission requirements in the future.

By 2035, the amendments will result in an 89% reduction of diesel PM and a 54% reduction in NOx emissions from commercial harbor craft, according to CARB estimates.

Source: CARB