Bunker Fuel Ban Gathers Steam in Congress


February 14, 2008

For Immediate Release

For more information contact:
Danielle Fugere, 415-577-5594
Nick Berning, 202-222-0748

Senator Boxer holds hearing today in Environment and Public Works Committee; Friends of the Earth commends her leadership

WASHINGTON, D.C.—A Senate committee is scheduled to hold its first hearing today on a bill that could effectively end the use of bunker fuel in and around the United States.

"Bunker fuel is the toxic, asphalt-like substance that was spilled into the San Francisco Bay last fall. When burned in ships, it causes air pollution that results in global warming and contributes to thousands of deaths each year," said Danielle Fugere of Friends of the Earth. "We commend Senator Boxer for her leadership in the fight for cleaner shipping fuels and for holding today’s hearing on this bill. Friends of the Earth is doing all it can to build grassroots support for passing this bill and enacting it into law."

After the Cosco Busan container ship struck the San Francisco Bay Bridge last autumn and spilled thousands of gallons of bunker fuel into the bay, Friends of the Earth circulated a petition calling for a ban on bunker fuel use—and thousands of Americans contacted Congress to demand action. The petition is part of a long-term campaign Friends of the Earth has waged to get rid of this deadly fuel. Bunker fuel literally comes from the bottom of the barrel when oil is refined and is especially harmful when burned, leading to air pollution responsible for tens of thousands of deaths each year.

The bill being addressed in today's hearing, the "Marine Vessel Emissions Reduction Act of 2007" (S. 1499), is sponsored by Senators Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Diane Feinstein (D-CA). It would require reduced air pollution from ships—effectively requiring ships to switch to cleaner fuels. The hearing will take place in the Environment and Public Works Committee, chaired by Senator Boxer.

Friends of the Earth submitted written testimony to the record for the hearing, which can be found at http://www.foe.org/BunkerFuelBan/BunkerFuelTestimony.pdf.

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