- Associated Press - Tuesday, March 3, 2015

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. (AP) - A pilot program that had cargo ships slow down in the Santa Barbara Channel appears to be working.

Government and nonprofit groups announced Tuesday that last year’s program prevented tons of air pollutants from being released by ship engines.

From July through November, seven shipping firms were paid $2,500 a trip to reduce ship speeds through the channel to 12 knots from the previous 14 knots to 18 knots.

The idea was to reduce air pollution and also increase protection for endangered whales that use the channel.

Authorities say over 27 trips, the program reduced greenhouse gas emissions by 500 metric tons and nitrogen oxide emissions by 16 tons.

The trial was modeled after successful slow-down programs at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach.

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