Port of Seattle becomes first U.S. port to require 100% of cruise vessels to use shore power

The Port of Seattle became the first port in the nation to independently require that 100% of all cruise vessels homeported in Seattle be shore power capable and utilize shore power. The order passed by the Port of Seattle Commission June 11 takes effect in the 2027 cruise season, three years before the Port’s previous goal of 2030 of universal shore power use.   

“We applaud the Port of Seattle’s leadership to move cruise vessels off of dirty fossil fuels,” said Jayne Stevenson, Climate Policy Associate for Pacific Environment. “Ocean going vessels, including cruise ships, are the #1 maritime polluter in the Puget Sound area. We urge the state of Washington to implement a statewide shore power policy to eliminate air and water pollution from all ocean-going vessels at the ports and protect the health and well-being of port communities.”

In October 2023, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency approved the California Air Resources Board (CARB) waiver request for the at-berth ocean going vessel rule. This regulation is a first step towards ending fossil-fueled emissions from ships at the ports. Other states, like Washington, have the opportunity to adopt similar measures to protect the health of Washingtonians that live near the ports. 

The Port of Seattle also continues to work in partnership with cruise ports in Alaska, Victoria, BC, and Vancouver, BC, and the cruise industry to explore the world’s first cruise-focused Green Corridor from Seattle to Alaska. As a frequent homeport for Alaska, Commissioner Felleman noted that: “Marketing such investments should also appeal to the environmental interests of travelers who have chosen to cruise to Alaska.”

According to the port’s release, plugging into shore power reduces diesel emissions from cruise vessels at berth by 80% on average. During the 2023 season, cruise ships using shore power avoided emitting 2,700 metric tons of greenhouse gases and 0.75 metric tons of diesel particulate matter — the equivalent of nearly 650 passenger cars driving for a year.

Fern Uennatornwaranggoon, Climate Campaign Director for Ports at Pacific Environment, said: “We appreciate the leadership shown by the Port of Seattle to move ocean going ships off of fossil fuels by committing to transition 100% of homeported cruise vessels to shore power. And, we call on other ports to follow the leadership of the Port of Seattle to move ports and shipping to a zero-emissions future.”

Photo credit: iStock/ Sorapop

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