The City's Committee on Waterfronts has rescheduled its hearing on the proposed "Shore Power Resolution" for this Tuesday, March 8th at 1pm, 250 Broadway, 16th Floor. The hearing is open to the Public.
See one of my previous posts (here) for the details of the resolution which has been proposed by many of our City's representatives (I've copied it in its entirety at the end of the post). Basically, this resolution urges the Public Service Commission (PSC) to set a "shore power tariff" - a rate of electricity supply - that would then be offered by Con Edison to allow cruise ships to plug into "shore power" while in port at the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal in Red Hook, instead of idling their extra-dirty diesel engines, as they currently do.
The adoption of the recommendations of this resolution would bring great benefits to the neighborhoods surrounding the port - Red Hook, Carroll Gardens, Cobble Hill and beyond - both in improvements in air quality and in the resultant health benefits. The EPA states that smokestack emissions from ships are particularly harmful to our most vulnerable - children, the elderly, minority communities and people with lung disease - and the Port Authority has made statements in testimony to the PSC that estimates the yearly savings in health costs to Brooklyn residents resulting from the switch to shore power at the Cruise Terminal "approaches $9 Million".
A LONG TERM SOLUTION
The setting of the shore power tariff seems the be the preferred long term solution to finally getting the cruise ships to plug in at the Brooklyn Terminal. There have been arguments - also made in this blog - that the cruise ship operators are getting off pretty easy in this deal. After all, they're doing very well, paying little tax, and their business is breaking records. Also, in the long term they'll be having to deal with a higher price for cleaner diesel when the Emissions Control Area is implemented around the coasts of the US and Canada.
However, it seems like to get this done, absent some form of legislation that would require the use of shore power (as is the case in some West Coast ports), this special rate of electricity needs to be created to actually get the cruise ships to "plug in".
There is some logic to this path being taken. If a shore power rate is created for Brooklyn, it should set the precedent for the use of this technology anywhere in the Ports of New York and New Jersey. The Port Authority has stated that it has plans to create a "cold ironing" berth at the Howland Hook Container Terminal in Staten Island. Surely they'll need a "shore power tariff" in place to make that plan feasible. The EPA stated in testimony to the PSC that "implementation of an appropriate Shore Power Tariff in New York City would provide an impetus for ship owners to invest in ship-side Shore Power equipment and for widespread use of this technology in other ports on the East Coast."
That would be a very good thing.
SHORT TERM SOLUTION - via Mayor Bloomberg?
Hopefully this resolution will get the result it seeks for the long term solution to this problem. However, the PSC moves very slowly, and in the short term, we still need to get the ships to plug in so these dangerous emissions can be taken out of our neighborhoods' air.
On that front, there is this news - under-reported as it is - from the South Brooklyn Post, reporting that Mayor Bloomberg says there is a deal in the works for a short-term solution for the Brooklyn cruise ship pollution problem.
The article, "Bloomberg Writes In", by Lisa M. Collins states -
Andrew Brent, a spokesman for Mayor Mike Bloomberg, contacted South Brooklyn Post to say that a deal is in the works to solve the major air pollution problem on the coast of Red Hook. Brent was responding to a series of articles in South Brooklyn Post revealing the fact that Carnival Cruise Lines, which netted $6 billion in profits over the last three years, is at a stalemate with city and state officials over a $1 to $2 million a year electricity bill that would clean Brooklyn’s air and the air quality over the New York harbor.“A deal would benefit all of the parties involved, and we’re all working to finalize one,” Brent wrote in an email.
The South Brooklyn Post also reports that Port Authority studies reveal that "ships are the No. 1 cause of air pollution in the New York/New Jersey harbor".
WORLD NEWS ON SHORE POWER
In other shore power news around the world, the publication "BunkerWorld" reports that -
"The European Sea Ports Organisation (ESPO) and European Community Ship-owners Association (ECSA) have come out in support of a proposed European tax exemption for shoreside power electricity."
The sister publication, "PortWorld", reports on a OECD study, entitled "Environmental Impacts of International Shipping: The Role of Ports". The PortWorld article states -
"The study also said using shoreside electricity should be made mandatory because "unless ships are obliged to use it, they have few incentives to do so."The study focuses on the Ports of Los Angeles, Long Beach, Vancouver, Rotterdam, and Busan."
Meanwhile, the Port of Los Angeles has upgraded one of its shore power facilities to accommodate three different cruise lines, with the ability to "plug in" two ships at a time. Story here and here.
It's frustrating to see these shore power incentives and initiatives, whether "sticks" or "carrots", being used elsewhere - on the West Coast and around the world - while we on the East Coast, and in Brooklyn in particular, are still waiting.
We've got a lot of catching up to do.
Hopefully, this new City resolution will be the piece that finally gets all involved to the get this shore power deal done so that we can begin - yes, just begin - to take these harmful, yet totally avoidable, pollutants out of our city's air, and our residents' lungs.