Ports reveal unprecedented surge in harmful emissions; officials blame COVID-19 logjam on China, other countries
The U.S. is running out of air quality permits fast. Here’s the full story. Photo: Andrew Harrer-Pines/Bloomberg
An unprecedented global push to get new pollution controls in place to curb the impact of COVID-19 has left the government struggling to get a grip on some of the more remote, hard-to-reach power plants and factories that would be impacted.
Ports across the country are reporting an unprecedented surge in the emissions released as ships discharge toxic and foul-smelling materials into their waters from offshore chemical plants.
While the federal and state agencies responsible for addressing the pollution say they are seeing a significant drop in the amount of harmful emissions from ports around the country — some as little as 20 percent — the government is struggling to get permits in front of the new plants that the Ports Council said it wants for the country by the end of September.
With no end in sight to the COVID-19 epidemic in China, that also is limiting the ability of Port Washington, N.Y., to meet its stringent “zero discharge” standard, which would require the discharge of only so much harmful emissions from its vessels.
And port managers like Robert J. DeNucci of the Port of Baltimore are finding it difficult to find enough space on their property to meet their standards to limit the discharge of harmful emissions. They can’t find enough parking for the ships and barges that move goods around the harbor. It’s also not legal for Baltimore to build a new container terminal at its Pointe-du-Hoc industrial park and the council is losing tens of millions of dollars because of lack of permits.
And the delays have created a financial hardship for local businesses and taxpayers, according to a report released this week by the Port of Baltimore, which is suing the federal government to be allowed use land for a massive