Environmental Protection Agency Regional Administrator Al Armendariz joined Port of Houston Authority chair James Edwards and CEO Alec Dreyer recently to tour the port’s environmental programs. The port and EPA are partners on several initiatives designed to develop best practices for port operations across the U.S., and to study emissions from cargo ships.

With the recent arrival of an ocean-going cargo vessel at the port, the EPA can conclude the data-gathering phase of a study on lower-sulfur marine fuels to reduce air pollution. The study will collect stack emissions data before, after and during the use of such fuels.

This marks the first time the EPA will gather emissions data from a commercial cargo ship operating in the Gulf. Beginning August 2012, international standards will require lower sulfur fuels be used by ships operating within 200 nautical mi of the majority of the U.S. and Canadian Atlantic and Pacific coastal waters and the U.S. Gulf Coast.

The study is the result of a partnership between the EPA, the Port of Houston Authority, the Mexican federal government and Hamburg Süd, a German-based shipping company. Additionally, ICF International and the University of California-Riverside are managing the technical elements of the program, including the emission measurements.