Weather Forecast


EPA wants to mandate cleaner burning fuel for Great Lakes shippers

Environmentalists are crying foul, as Wausau House Democrat David Obey tries to exempt Great Lakes shippers from proposed federal pollution controls.

The EPA wants to ban the use of high-sulfur fuel on freighters within 200 miles of U.S. coasts, as well as major rivers and lakes.

It's part of a new energy and water budget that's now going through Congress and environmentalists say the new rules could prevent 450 deaths each year in the Great Lakes region.

But local shippers say the measure discriminates against them, because they always operate within 200 miles of Midwest shores.

They say it could drive some boats out of business.

And Murphy Oil of Superior - which is in Obey's district - supplies much of the fuel used by both domestic and foreign ships on the Great Lakes.

David Podratz of Murphy Oil says some carriers could not afford the cleaner burning fuel the EPA wants to mandate.

And he says the Duluth-Superior economy could take a big hit if the new regulations are passed.

Obey is not commenting on his proposal to exempt Great Lakes shippers from the new rules which would also require nitrogen oxide controls on the engines of new ships in the U.S.

Frank O'Donnell of the Clean Air Watch group says Obey is synonymous with environmental protection.

And his group and others criticize the congressman for trying to protect a major employer in his district.