What do children with asthma have in common with whales? More than you might think. Along the entire California coastline, they both are threatened by speeding ships, which waste fuel, endanger whales, produce pollution causing our climate crisis, and spew toxic chemicals that harm the health of Californians.
A threat to ocean life
The danger speeding ships pose to marine life is made clear by a recent Los Angeles Times news story: A decapitated humpback whale carcass washed ashore in the port town of San Pedro. A “large 20-foot propeller can easily do a lot of damage to a whale, and in this case did remove the entire head,” according to Diane Alps, president of the Los Angeles chapter of the American Cetacean Society. “It was likely a very large cargo ship or other large vessel that was making its way south to the port.”
A threat to our families
The exhaust from ships’ large diesel engines is among the most dangerous and pervasive sources of air pollution. In addition to pollution that adds to the climate crisis, the exhaust contains chemicals that contribute to smog and harm our health—including diesel particulate matter, which is known to cause cancer, premature deaths and other health problems.
A solution tied up in red tape
In 2008, the California Air Resources Board (ARB) began working on a vital regulation that would set speed limits for ships along the California coast, slashing harmful air pollution and helping our state meet vital pollution-reduction goals. It would also reduce the risk of speeding ships fatally striking whales.
Time and again, this rule has been delayed. As the port economy rebounds, shipping lanes are again filling up, and cargo traffic is rising. Now is the time for California to control ship speeds to protect our environment and health. Please send ARB a message telling them to re-start their engines on this regulation today!
A strong rule would include:
• a mandatory speed limit of 10-12 knots
• regulation of all ships, not just those destined for a major port
• a 40-nautical-mile zone for the entire California coast
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