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Program To Reduce Air Pollution, Improve Whale Safety In Santa Barbara Channel Resumes


Ten cargo ship companies are taking part in a program to get cargo ships passing through the Santa Barbara Channel to slow down, with the dual incentives of reducing the chances of the ships striking whales and cutting air pollution.

The effort is building on a 2014 pilot program involving government agencies and foundations. The cargo ship companies receive financial compensation of $1500 to $2500 to slow their transits to 12 knots or less, with additional payments if they slow to 10 knots or less, and provide evidence they didn’t speed up elsewhere on their route.

Cargo ship companies received payment for 27 trips during the 2014 experiment. This time, more than 50 transits are expected to take part in the July to November program.

Ships passing through the channel create more than 50% of the nitrogen oxide pollution in Santa Barbara County annually, and more than 25% of it in Ventura County. The test program showed slowing the ships substantially reduced nitrogen oxide pollution, and decreased the risk of fatal ship strikes with whales.

Lance Orozco has been News Director of KCLU since 2001, providing award-winning coverage of some of the biggest news events in the region, including the Thomas and Woolsey brush fires, the deadly Montecito debris flow, the Borderline Bar and Grill attack, and Ronald Reagan's funeral.