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2017 Clean Air Action Plan Moves Forward at Nation’s Largest Port Complex

The document “provides high-level guidance for accelerating progress toward a zero-emission future” while protecting and strengthening the ports’ competitive position.

By ·
By ·

The governing boards of the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach unanimously approved the 2017 Clean Air Action Plan (CAAP) Update last week, despite concerns voiced by supply chain specialists that the implementation may be unrealistic.

According to port spokesmen, the document “provides high-level guidance for accelerating progress toward a zero-emission future” while protecting and strengthening the ports’ competitive position.
The action sets in motion the process for developing and refining specific programs. The strategies include:

• Identifying clean engine milestones for new trucks entering the port drayage registries and creating a rate structure and incentives that encourage faster turnover to near-zero and zero-emission trucks, with the goal of transitioning to a zero-emission on-road drayage fleet by 2035.

  • Developing a universal truck reservation system, staging yards, intelligent transportation systems and other efficiency programs to reduce emissions while improving the flow of cargo.
  • Beginning in 2020, requiring terminal operators to deploy zero-emission equipment, if feasible, or the cleanest equipment available when procuring new cargo-handling equipment, with the goal of transitioning all terminal equipment to zero emissions by 2030.
  • Developing infrastructure plans to support terminal equipment electrification, alternative fuels and other energy resource goals.
  • Expanding use of on-dock rail, with the long-term goal of moving 50 percent of all cargo leaving the ports by rail.

As the detailed implementation programs are developed, they will be brought to each port’s harbor commission for approval.
John McLaurin, president of the Pacific Merchant Shipping Association, thanked the Port Commission for listening to shipper’s concerns.
“Progress was made in some key areas, specifically if the ports were to mandate a technology that has not yet been developed, tested, or made commercially available,” he said.

As noted recent features, the supply chain community is concerned about the CAAP’s $14 billion cost and its potential negative impacts on port competitiveness and the one in nine jobs in the Southern California region that are reliant on the ports.

“As the CAAP is implemented, it will take open, honest and collaborative dialogue by all parties to address the feasibility of zero-emission cargo-handling equipment and to examine the ports ability to compete with other North American trade gateways,” said McLaurin.

Targets for reducing greenhouse gases (GHGs) from port-related sources to combat global warming and climate change are a new element of the 2017 CAAP. The document calls for the ports to reduce GHGs 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030 and 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050.

The GHG targets add to the ports’ existing goals for reducing diesel particulate matter (DPM), nitrogen oxides (NOx) and sulfur oxides (SOx). By 2023, the ports aim to cut emissions of DPM 77 percent, NOx 59 percent, and SOx 93 percent below 2005 levels. Intensifying efforts to reduce GHGs is expected to further lower DPM, NOx and SOx emissions.

Building on the significant clean air gains achieved since the ports adopted the CAAP in 2006, the 2017 CAAP is a comprehensive plan for pursuing the ultimate goal of eliminating all harmful air emissions from port-related sources: ships, trucks, cargo handling equipment, locomotives and harbor craft.

The document identifies four categories of coordinated strategies:

  1. clean vehicles, equipment technology and fuels
  2. infrastructure investment and planning
  3. operational efficiency throughout the supply chain
  4. energy resource planning.
  5. In addition to incorporating regional, state and federal standards and regulations, the 2017 CAAP integrates aggressive joint zero-emission initiatives the two mayors announced in June. The initiatives include new investments in clean technology, expanded use of alternatives for reducing at-berth ship emissions, and a demonstration of up to 100 zero-emission trucks in the next few years.

    The estimated cost of implementing the 2017 CAAP ranges from $7 billion to $14 billion. Given the pioneering nature of the ports’ objectives, the update relies on a framework to assess the feasibility of new technologies — to determine workability and affordability, and to demonstrate the adequacy of supporting infrastructure. The document also reaffirms the ports’ commitment to nurturing a vibrant workforce as we transition to zero-emission technologies for the goods movement industry.

    The new strategies were developed with more than two years of dialogue with industry, environmental groups, regulatory agencies, local residents, equipment and fuel vendors, technology developers and others. Because stakeholder input will be crucial going forward, the document creates a CAAP Implementation Stakeholder Advisory Group of public and private experts to provide input on implementing new strategies. The group’s meetings will be open to all who wish to attend.

    “Collaboration will be critical to our success,” said Long Beach Harbor Commission President Lou Anne Bynum. “Moving the needle to zero requires all of us — the ports, industry, regulatory agencies, environmental groups and our communities — to pool our energy, expertise and resources.”

    “Intensifying our advocacy efforts is also a priority,” said Ambassador Vilma Martinez, President of the Port of Los Angeles Board of Harbor Commissioners. “The new plan reflects our commitment to doing everything in our power to push for funding, support research and demonstration projects, and expand our involvement in the regulatory process to advance our shared environmental and economic objectives.”

    Recent air emissions inventories show the ports have surpassed the 2023 pollution reduction goals for DPM (87 percent) and SOx (97 percent) and are close to reaching their goal for reducing NOx (56 percent). They also show emissions are declining while cargo volumes are rising, confirming the ports are growing green. The combined port complex is on pace in 2017 for the busiest year ever.

    The ports plan to expand their Technology Advancement Program (TAP) to include technologies and approaches that help meet their new goals for reducing GHGs. TAP has been highly successful in demonstrating cutting-edge emissions reduction technology, with many projects resulting in commercial deployment throughout the complex today. 

     


About the Author

Patrick Burnson, Executive Editor
Patrick Burnson is executive editor for Logistics Management and Supply Chain Management Review magazines and web sites. Patrick is a widely-published writer and editor who has spent most of his career covering international trade, global logistics, and supply chain management. He lives and works in San Francisco, providing readers with a Pacific Rim perspective on industry trends and forecasts. You can reach him directly at [email protected]

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