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Home > Feature Articles > Logistics and Vehicle Fleet Management > Goods Movement

Introduction to Port Clean Air Strategies

Port of Los Angeles and Port of Long Beach research and impact on Southern California business

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Supply Chain America's "supply chain" comes through Southern California's front door and leaves out our back door. Shipping, rail and trucking of goods is a HUGE issue for our SoCal communities. Families both put food on the table because of the logistics industry...and they take their children to the doctor because of the logistics industry.

The Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach are the fulcrum of this logistics industry. They administer the commercial goods traffic in and out of the region. 2007 is a challenging year for Port administrators because the pollution concern is hitting the economic development concern. How do we reduce pollution and grow the ports and logistics industry to keep pace with global and regional goods movement to serve our growing global population?

Five Year Clean Air Plan

The Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach recently issued a joint five-year draft San Pedro Bay Ports Clean Air Action Plan (plan) identifying emission reduction strategies that can be implemented via leases, tariffs and other mechanisms under port authority. Staffs from the ARB, U.S. EPA, and South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD) participated in the development of the plan. (air quality activities are also underway with the Ports of Oakland and Stockton.)

The pollutants being measured and regulated in the logistics industry include:

  • diesel particulate matter (diesel PM)
  • nitrogen oxides (NOx)
  • reactive organic gases (ROG)
  • sulfur oxides (SOx)
And the equipment identified as contributing to this mobile source pollution include:
  • Ships
  • Harbor Craft
  • Cargo Handling Equipment
  • Trucks
  • Transport Refrigeration Units
  • Locomotives
Off-shore emissions are most important from the standpoint of regional ozone and fine particulate matter levels. Dockside emissions are especially important in terms of health risk to nearby communities.

According to a report to CARB in 2006: The plan includes working with the ports' individual tenants to cut emissions and health risk from port trucks, ships, harborcraft, cargo-handling equipment, and locomotives. The key strategy focuses on cleaning up port trucks, through retrofit and replacement with cleaner diesel or natural gas vehicles. The ports are committing $200 million for this strategy; the draft plan anticipates roughly $1 billion more from the proposed transportation bond and other sources to fund this truck conversion. He also emphasized the ports’ commitment to expand the dockside infrastructure at 22-28 berths to enable ships to plug into shore electrical power, instead of running their diesel auxiliary engines. The primary implementation mechanism is for the ports as landlords to impose additional conditions in leases as they come up for renewal or modification. Trucking companies are represented by trade groups such as California Trucking Association who are focused on the proposal to clean up port trucks. They recommend involving trucking companies in the planning process, have disputed ARB’s authority to regulate mobile sources, and advocate a legislative solution to set registration and entry requirements for all trucks operating in California.

Shipping companies are being held accountable through slower speed regulations and idling restrictions. Ocean going vessels (OGVs) are the largest contributors to port pollution. Shoreside power significantly reduces a ship's emissions by allowing a ship to turn off its engines, and "plug-in" to electrical power alteratives.

In the Los Angeles area, oceangoing ships, harbor tugs, and commercial boats such as passenger ferries emit many times more smog-forming pollutants than all the power plants in the Southern California region combined (1). In fact, 10 percent of Long Beach’s smog-forming pollutants originate at the ports (2). Furthermore, growth forecasts predict trade will triple by 2020

Railroads including Union Pacific (UP) Railroad and BNSF Railway are required to install idle reduction devices on intrastate locomotives. Idle reduction devices have now been installed in over 50 percent of the nearly 438 UP and BNSF intrastate locomotives operating in California. In addition, both railroads are on schedule to comply with the Agreement's requirements for a minimum use of 80 percent low sulfur (15 ppmw) diesel fuel for locomotives.

The Port of Los Angeles is the largest port in the nation. If combined with the adjacent Port of Long Beach, the two ports would qualify as the third-largest port in the world.3 The Port of Los Angeles has 30 major cargo terminals and covers 43 miles of waterfront and 7,500 acres of land and water. (2004)

The South Coast Air Quality Management District has identified the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach as the #1 stationary source of air pollution in the region.

Recent research about California ports and transportation impact

Wages and Working Conditions of Truck Drivers at the Port of Long Beach-Research Report Research summary and excerpts on port conditions

Incentivizing Truck Retrofitting in Port Drayage - Truck Driver Research Results,content=848

PDF fromn NRDC and Coalition for Clean Air on "Harboring Pollution: The Dirty Truch about U.S. Ports (2004)

Edited by Carolyn Allen, owner/editor of California Green Solutions
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