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Alaska editorial: Low-sulphur rule would hurt Kodiak business

Posted: July 29, 2012 - 12:05am

This editorial first appeared in the Kodiak Daily Mirror:

Two weeks ago, the state of Alaska filed suit against the federal government to stop enforcement of new EPA regulations that mandate low-sulfur fuel for ships operating within 200 miles of Southcentral and Southeastern shores.

While the pros and cons of this issue are complicated, it’s a move we can get behind for one simple reason: cost.

Low-sulfur fuel costs more than current fuel. According to Totem Ocean Express, the cost of shipping to the Port of Anchorage would rise by 8 percent. Because shipping to Kodiak involves an extra trip, this cost would impact Kodiak even more.

While reducing atmospheric sulphur — a key component of acid rain — is a noble goal, this measure comes at a disproportionate cost to Kodiak.

Without action, the low-sulfur requirement comes into effect Aug. 1. We advise the judge hearing the state’s lawsuit to issue an injunction to prevent this from happening.

Acid rain and ocean acidification are important topics, but the impact of marine traffic on these processes is minimal. According to the EPA, two-thirds of American sulphur emissions come from power plants that use fossil fuels — primarily coal.

On a global level, marine traffic produces just 10 percent of the earth’s atmospheric sulfur emissions.

This regulation pursues minimal gains at a high price. For that reason, however noble the goal, we cannot support the means suggested to reach it.

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