U.S. Sen. Mark Begich released the following statement after Totem Ocean Trailer Express (TOTE) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced an agreement to allow conversion of TOTE's Alaska-bound ships to run on liquefied natural gas (LNG) as a means of complying with new rules to reduce air pollution from ships:
"I commend TOTE for its innovative thinking and applaud EPA and the U.S. Coast Guard for having the flexibility to come to this agreement regarding the North American Emission Control Area (ECA).
"The permit will help protect Alaskans from increased shipping costs, expand the market for natural gas, and ultimately lead to even cleaner air than ECA requires. TOTE's project will be the first major use of LNG as a ship fuel in the United States, and others in the maritime industry are sure to follow the path that TOTE will be blazing.
"This means the effects of expanded natural gas use, more economical shipping and cleaner air, will be multiplied many times over.
"I was happy to help bring the three parties together and to see the long-term impacts this kind of innovation can have. Instead of endless litigation, this is the kind of teamwork, creativity and regulatory flexibility that we truly need."
John Parrott, President of TOTE said, "Senator Begich's passion for this project and constructive support of it, and the use of natural gas as a commercial maritime shipping fuel, were critical in forming this successful public/private partnership.
This is just the start to a project that will achieve significant environmental benefits. However, the real win is that the use of LNG greatly strengthens our ability to provide the highest levels of service to Alaska."