Office of Environment

The Office of Environment (OE) is one of three Offices that report to the Associate Administrator for Environment and Compliance. The OE serves three primary functions within the Maritime Administration:

  • Provides Agency environmental support, including Agency compliance with applicable environmental laws, regulations, and Executive Orders; National Environmental Policy Act reviews and evaluations; and environmental support for Port and Inter-modal Infrastructure and America’s Marine Highway Program.
  • Provides marine transportation stakeholder support and assistance, including R&D related to emerging marine transportation environmental issues.
  • Provides advice to the Maritime Administrator and the Department of Transportation related to domestic and international environmental and energy policies that affect marine transportation.


Puget Sound Clean Air Agency Project (10/20/2015)

MARAD announces the availability of the final report for a multi-year study with the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency (PSCAA) providing real-time exhaust emissions data related to the repower of a Puget Sound Tug. The project received funding from MARAD’s Maritime Environmental and Technical Assistance (META) program and provides actual data on operating emissions associated with the replacement of old engines with modern EPA certified Tier-2 engines, as well as cost/benefit information. Additional partners in the project included the Washington State Department of Ecology, Island Tug & Barge, and Seattle Central Community College Maritime Academy.

The project included the replacement of four unregulated engines on the MV Island Chief with new Tier 2-certified engines. With that simple upgrade, operation of the new engines resulted in a significant reduction of particulate matter emissions (greater than 60%) and a fuel consumption savings of approximately 30%. This latter savings was reinvested to replace additional engines on another Island Tug & Barge tugboat.

As part of the project, the PSCAA sponsored a harbor vessel workshop that gathered more than 80 representatives from the maritime industry and government transportation and environmental agencies to further discuss and encourage emission reduction strategies; two community college students found employment in the industry; and the Washington State Department of Ecology established a fund to assist other Puget Sound operators to repower tugboats. Puget Sound Clean Air Agency Project Report 2015


MARAD Gives Over $1 Million to Technology Forerunners (10/05/2015)

—Washington, D.C.
The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Maritime Administration (MARAD) has announced that it will provide over $1 million to support the development of two new emission-reducing solutions.
Through a cooperative agreement, MARAD has provided $730,000 to Pittsburgh Region Clean Cities (PRCC) to convert a towboat engine from diesel to LNG. Results from this demonstration project are expected to help expand the development and availability of natural gas conversion technology for smaller scale tug, tow and harbor vessels. PRCC will collect air emissions data before and after the conversion, which will allow for operational and emissions comparisons.
A separate cooperative agreement will provide Interlake Steamship Company (Interlake) of Ohio with $500,000 to retrofit the Lee Tregurtha, which operates on the Great Lakes, with an exhaust gas scrubber. The scrubber is anticipated to significantly reduce sulfur emissions and meet or exceed North American Emissions Control Area requirements. Interlake will provide MARAD with pre- and post-installation air emissions data, and lessons learned on scrubber installation and operation.
In April 2015, Interlake became the first U.S.-flag fleet to test freshwater scrubbers on the Great Lakes when a system became operational on the 806-foot Oberstar. The 826-foot Tregurtha and 1,003-foot Barker will be equipped with the same single-inlet, closed-loop DuPont Marine scrubbers from Belco Technologies, a division of DuPont Sustainable Solutions. Installation work will be undertaken by Bay Shipbuilding. In all, five Interlake vessels, including two additional 1,000-footers: the Paul R. Tregurtha and Mesabi Miner, will be outfitted with scrubbers by 2017.
The newly-funded demonstration projects are part of ongoing work by MARAD’s Maritime Environmental and Technical Assistance Program and the maritime industry to conduct research and demonstration projects in support of identifying alternative fuels and technologies for marine applications.
“These investments accelerate the growth of alternative fuel and environmental technologies throughout the United States’ maritime industry,” said Maritime Administrator Paul ‘Chip’ Jaenichen. “These projects will yield data that will support future commercial investment decisions and will provide lasting benefits for our nation while helping us reduce the industry’s environmental footprint. This is how government can work to encourage technology advancement and environmental stewardship.”
Earlier this month, MARAD announced a $900,000 cooperative agreement with Totem Ocean Trailer Express Inc. (TOTE) to further develop knowledge regarding the costs and benefits of vessel conversions to LNG propulsion. Tote will convert the container ship Midnight Sun to operate on LNG and will work with MARAD to obtain pre and post-conversion air emissions data, and operational information to assist maritime stakeholders in assessing the potential of LNG conversions. The Midnight Sun is a RO/RO cargo ship which provides round-trip shipping service between the Port of Tacoma, WA, and the Port of Anchorage, AK. The study is expected to be completed by 2018.