Santa Barbara County Air Pollution Control District

Regional Issues
Air Pollution from Marine Shipping- Impacts to Santa Barbara County
Page last updated April 09, 2014.


  • The Marine Environment Protection Committee of the International Maritime Organization will leave intact the original 2016 target date for new ship engines to achieve lower NOx limits in the North American Emission Control Area. The District Board submitted a letter calling for the retention of this deadline. See Board memo  and letter.  
  • The District and partners are exploring a vessel speeed reduction incentive trial program in the Santa Barbara Channel for pollution reduction and whale protection. The District's Community Advisory Council was updated on local initiatives at a March 12, 2014 meeting.  See presentation.
  • The District and Maersk Line co-presented February 11, 2014 at the NACAA-EPA 2014 National Air Quality Conference.  See presentation titled  "Reducing Marine Shipping Emissions: Local and Global Initiatives."

A September 2013 court decision will leave in place international rules to reduce shipping emissions. See this page for more information.

The District has suggested using AB 32 Cap-and-Trade auction funds to achieve voluntary ship speed reduction off the coast of California. This could reduce emissions of greenhouse gases and a range of other pollutants; it could also reduce the lethality of ship strikes on whales. On March 7, 2013, the District submitted a proposal for a vessel speed reduction incentive initiative to the California Air Resources Board, and on April 23, the District submitted a letter calling for inclusion of the initiative in the final Investment Plan. See April 23, 2013 letter, plus letters supporting the idea of a vessel speed reduction initiative from other agencies, businesses, and organizations. Also see original March 7 submittal with Implementation Plan The state FY 2013-2014 budget established that these funds would be loaned to the budget, and not expended in this fiscal year; the District is continuing to explore ways to implement this project.

The District has held a series of  marine shipping solutions meetings. A November 8, 2012 meeting featured Bruce Anderson of Starcrest Consulting Group and Carter Atkins of the Port of Los Angeles. See presentation (PDF). See descriptions of previous meetings in the District newsletter featuring whale researcher John Calambokidis in the summer 2012 issue, and Lee Kindberg of Maersk in the winter 2012 issue. To be added to an email list for information about upcoming presentations, email Mary Byrd.

Ship and blue whale in SB Channel
Photo by John Calambokidis, Cascadia Research.

These web pages provide information on emissions from marine shipping and on the District's activities in this area. Follow the links below, and continue on this page for general information on shipping emissions in Santa Barbara County.

Local Impacts of Marine Shipping Local Studies & Actions Technologies and Research State/National/
International Initiatives
Related Downloads/Links Past Activities

Large ships are responsible for substantial amounts of worldwide emissions of black carbon, nitrogen oxides (NOx), particulate matter, sulfur, air toxics, greenhouse gases, and substances that deplete ozone in the upper atmosphere. Shipping emissions have been included in District emission inventories since 1994, and the District has been working to raise awareness of the problem and calling for voluntary and regulatory measures to control these emissions. In Santa Barbara County, NOx emissions from ships traveling off our coast are a concern, as NOx emissions are involved in the formation of ozone, and the County does not attain the state ozone standard. A continued focus on marine shipping emissions is also important to ensure the County remains in attainment of the federal ozone standard. The figure below (from the District's 2010 Clean Air Plan) illustrates the size of the problem.

Santa Barbara County Sources of NOx

Santa Barbara County Sources of NOx

See "Past Activities" link above to see past District activities calling for regulations in this area.Recently, several regulations have been issued that will reduce these emissions (see "Initiatives" link above). These regulations will bring about significant reductions in several pollutants in the near term, however, NOx reductions will only be achieved in a long-term timeframe. The District's current focus is to explore ways to achieve more near-term NOx reductions, and additional reductions in other pollutants. See "Local Studies & Actions" and "Technologies and Research" links above for more information.

District Contacts

Fore more information, contact Technology and Environmental Assessment Division Manager Brian Shafritz, Emissions Inventory Specialist Joe Petrini, or Public Information Officer Mary Byrd.