New Developments in MARPOL Annex VI Compliance and Implementation

Jeanne M. Grasso, Jonathan K. Waldron, and Dana S. Merkel

 

The International Maritime Organization (“IMO”), in preparing for the global 0.5 percent fuel oil sulfur limit, recently adopted an amendment to MARPOL Annex VI to support consistent implementation and enforcement of the new requirement. At the same time, the IMO rejected a proposal for an “experience building phase” during the first months of implementation. This put to rest any rumors of a delay in implementation. Meanwhile, the U.S. Coast Guard published procedures by which owners may seek authorization to operate engines that do not meet MARPOL Annex VI NOx Tier III requirements for qualified vessels.

New Developments

The IMO adopted an amendment to support consistent implementation of the forthcoming 0.5 percent limit on sulfur in ships fuel oil on October 26, 2018, during the recent session of its Marine Environment Protection Committee (“MEPC 73”). This amendment, effective on March 1, 2020, prohibits the carriage of non-compliant fuel oil for use on the vessel unless the vessel is outfitted with an exhaust gas cleaning system, often referred to as a scrubber. The amendment does not alter the January 1, 2020 implementation date for the 0.5 percent sulfur limit.

Also related to MARPOL Annex VI, the U.S. Coast Guard published an enforcement Work Instruction formally addressing how the U.S. Coast Guard will enforce the Annex VI nitrogen oxides (“NOx”) Tier III standards within the North American and U.S. Caribbean Sea Emission Control Areas (“ECAs”). See Exercise of Enforcement Discretion with Regard to MARPOL Annex VI Regulation 13.5.1.2; CVC-WI-014(1) (October 17, 2018). Because engines meeting the NOx Tier III standards were largely unavailable after the Tier III standards took effect in 2016, the U.S. Coast Guard is allowing impacted vessels to instead be certified as meeting U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) Clean Air Act Tier 3 requirements pursuant to 40 C.F.R. Part 1042. Once individually recognized by the U.S. Coast Guard, such engines may be used indefinitely, even after NOx Tier III compliant engines become available.

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EPA’s 2013 Vessel General Permit to Be Continued into 2019

Jeanne M. Grasso, Jonathan K. Waldron, and Emma C. Jones

 

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) recently published an update on its website notifying the industry that it would administratively continue the 2013 Vessel General Permit (“VGP”) until a new permit is issued sometime in 2019.

New Development

EPA’s 2013 VGP, which regulates incidental discharges from vessels, is set to expire on December 18, 2018. On October 10, 2018, EPA issued a statement on its website that the current 2013 VGP will not be reissued prior to the expiration date, but will be administratively continued and remain in effect until the new VGP is issued. EPA identifies its target timeframe for publishing a draft VGP, for public comment, as spring 2019. This will likely include a comment period of at least 30 days. This will be followed by a few months of EPA review before a new final VGP is published, likely during the summer. The link to the website can be found at epa.gov/npdes/vessels-vgp.

Practically, this means that vessels currently covered under the 2013 VGP will automatically be covered by the administrative continuance without further action, and new vessels with keels laid prior to December 18, 2018, must file a Notice of Intent (“NOI”) prior to December 18, 2018, to be covered by the 2013 VGP, otherwise they will not be covered until the 2018 VGP is finalized. If new vessels do not file an NOI before December 18, 2018, they will not be able to discharge in the United States, which basically prohibits them from operating in the United States.

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The Ocean Is Awash with Plastic: How Can the Maritime Industry Help?

Joan M. Bondareff and Jeanne M. Grasso

The eight-part series, Blue Planet II, narrated by Sir David Attenborough last year on BBC, seems to have awoken the public’s attention to the crisis of our oceans being littered with vast amounts of plastic, fishing gear, and other types of marine debris. As a result, cities, states, and nations around the world, as well as major cruise lines, are proactively looking at ways to reduce plastic to keep it from entering the sea.

The Extent of the Problem

Most plastic or marine debris comes from land-based sources, including from rivers that enter the sea, especially from coun­tries with less responsible garbage practices. For example, according to the BBC, most garbage in the ocean comes from 15 nations around the Pacific Rim, including China, Indonesia, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, and Thailand.

According to a study published in Nature magazine and also reported in USA Today in March 2018, the “Great Pacific Garbage Patch,” a collection of floating plastic trash halfway between Hawaii and California, has grown to more than 600,000 square miles—an area twice the size of Texas. The trash is said to come from the Pacific Rim as well as North and South America. Since the garbage patch is in international waters, no nation has stepped up to clean it up. (Id.) Continue reading “The Ocean Is Awash with Plastic: How Can the Maritime Industry Help?”

Environmental Compliance Aboard Commercial Ships: Electronic Recordkeeping Is Overdue

Mainbrace | March 2018 (No.1)

Gregory F. Linsin and Kierstan L. Carlson

Environmental laws and regulations in the United States impose substantial recordkeeping and reporting obliga­tions on regulated industries. These requirements are designed to document a company’s compliance with the requirements and limitations established by the regulatory scheme as well as any applicable environmental permits. Regulated companies also are required to maintain their compliance documentation and to submit periodic com­prehensive reports to regulators detailing their compliance with environmental standards. These records are used by the Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) and the delegated state regu­latory agencies to monitor compliance and, if permit exceedances or irregu­larities in the compliance records are detected, to evaluate the need for enforcement actions.

These substantial recordkeeping and reporting requirements were par­ticularly onerous on both industry and government, in part because records historically were required to be maintained and submitted in hard copy, which presented challenges inherent in managing enormous volumes of paper. Until recently, the U.S. Department of Justice (“DOJ”) and the EPA have resisted transitioning to electronic recordkeeping systems for environmental compli­ance data. This resistance was rooted in concerns about the reliability and security of electronic reporting (e.g., the gov­ernment wanted assurance that data submitted by private parties had not been manipulated and that the govern­ment’s ability to verify that the records were prepared and signed by a responsible corporate representative remained intact). Nevertheless, in the last few years and in light of the enhanced reliability of electronic information systems, the EPA decided to enter the 21st century: Continue reading “Environmental Compliance Aboard Commercial Ships: Electronic Recordkeeping Is Overdue”

Regulatory Stalemate in the Trump Era

Mainbrace | October 2017 (No.4)

Sean T. Pribyl, Jonathan K. Waldron, and Joan M. Bondareff

In the lead up to the general election, then-candidate Donald Trump often repeated campaign promises to massively cut federal regulations that he viewed as stifling to business growth and killing jobs. True to his word, in his first 200 days of office, President Trump has generally delivered on his promise to stymie new federal regulations, including those impacting the maritime industry. Continue reading “Regulatory Stalemate in the Trump Era”

U.S. Ballast Water Compliance Challenges and Considerations Now That Imo’s Ballast Water Convention Has Been Ratified

Jonathan K. Waldron, Jeanne M. Grasso, and Stefanos N. Roulakis

Action Item: Although the ratification of the IMO’s Ballast Water Convention will not alter U.S. compliance obligations, industry stakeholders must now consider their obligations under international law to ensure compliance with both regimes. Until the U.S. Coast Guard type-approves a ballast water management system (“BWMS”), owners and operators of both U.S. and foreign-flag vessels trading in U.S. waters should take steps to evaluate the compliance obligations under both regimes before making capital investments in BWMSs that may not comply with U.S. law. Continue reading “U.S. Ballast Water Compliance Challenges and Considerations Now That Imo’s Ballast Water Convention Has Been Ratified”

Risk-Management Tools for Maritime Companies

Mainbrace | June 2016 (No. 3)

Compliance Review Program

Blank Rome Maritime has developed a flexible, fixed-fee Compliance Review Program to help maritime companies mitigate the escalating risks in the maritime regulatory environment. The program provides concrete, practical guidance tailored to your operations to strengthen your regulatory compliance systems and minimize the risk of your company becoming an enforcement statistic. To learn how the Compliance Review Program can help your company, please visit www.blankrome.com/  compliancereviewprogram.

Maritime Cybersecurity Review Program

Blank Rome provides a comprehensive solution for protecting your company’s property and reputation from the unprecedented cyber- security challenges present in today’s global digital economy. Our multidisciplinary team of leading cybersecurity and data privacy professionals advises clients on the potential consequences of cyber- security threats and how to implement comprehensive measures for mitigating cyber risks, prepare customized strategy and action plans, and provide ongoing support and maintenance to promote cybersecurity awareness. Blank Rome’s maritime cybersecurity team has the capability to address cybersecurity issues associated with both land-based systems and systems onboard ships, including the implementation of the BIMCO Guidelines on Cyber Security Onboard Ships. To learn how the Maritime Cybersecurity Review Program can help your company, please visit www.blankrome.com/ cybersecurity or contact Kate B. Belmont (KBelmont@BlankRome.com, 212.885.5075).

Trade Sanctions and Export Compliance Review Program

Blank Rome’s Trade Sanctions and Export Compliance Review Program ensures that companies in the maritime, transportation, offshore, and commodities fields do not fall afoul of U.S. trade law requirements. U.S. requirements for trading with Iran, Cuba, Russia, Syria, and other hotspots change rapidly, and U.S. limits on banking and financial services, and restrictions on exports of U.S. goods, software, and technology, impact our shipping and energy clients daily. Our team will review and update our clients’ internal policies and procedures for complying with these rules on a fixed-fee basis. When needed, our trade team brings extensive experience in compliance audits and planning, investigations and enforcement matters, and government relations, tailored to provide practical and businesslike solutions for shipping, trading, and energy clients worldwide. To learn how the Trade Sanctions and Export Compliance Review Program can help your company, please visit www.blankrome-maritime.com or contact Matthew J. Thomas (MThomas@BlankRome.com, 202.772.5971).