Freight handling stakeholders in port areas and the Environmental Protection Agency have launched an initiative that’s designed to help clear the air in the nation’s port areas.
It’s called the EPA SmartWay Drayage Program and it has potential for a nationwide solution to port pollution. It builds on clean truck programs that have been around at various port regions for several years.
The players in the initiative with the EPA comprise an impressive roster: The Coalition for Responsible Transportation and the Environmental Defense Fund. CRT partners include: Best Buy; Hewlett Packard; Home Depot; JC Penney; Lowe’s; Nike; Target; Walmart; and the following port trucking carriers: California Cartage Express, LLC; California Multimodal, LLC; Container Connection; Evans Delivery Company, Inc.; GSC Logistics; PDS Trucking Inc.; Performance Team/Gale Triangle; Total Transportation Services, Inc.; and the Western Ports Transportation.
The launch was announced this week at the Port of Charleston, SC. According to the joint announcement, the program “builds a partnership between numerous goods movement stakeholders including major national retailers, trucking companies, port communities, environmental groups and the U.S. EPA to solve a critical health and environmental challenge: how to reduce harmful air emissions from port drayage trucks.”
Drayage trucks, which haul cargo containers arriving at ports to storage areas, transload centers and nearby distribution centers are usually very old and a major source of diesel emissions in and around port areas. Getting those vehicles off the road is one of the most difficult and controversial port and transportation issues around.
In a statement, Rick Gabrielson, who is the CRT President and is Target’s Director of Import Operations, said, “This partnership will generate private sector investment in clean technology, improve the environmental quality of our nation’s port communities and demonstrate the commitment we have made as the shipping industry’s leaders to emissions reductions.”
The program “offers great incentives for independent owner operators and trucking companies to replace their older drayage trucks with cleaner, less polluting models,” said Marcia Aronoff, the EDF’s senior vice president for programs. “With the rise in population and the growth of the freight transportation industry, we must be vigilant, forward thinking and creative in finding solutions that reduce toxic emissions and embrace market-based sustainability efforts.”
The drayage program is based on the EPA’s SmartWay Transport Partnership, generally regarded as an innovative and successful collaboration between the EPA and goods movement stakeholders. The voluntary program provides a framework for assessing and addressing transportation-related emissions and energy efficiency while recognizing superior environmental performance through market-based incentives.
Under the drayage program, port trucking companies and independent owner-operators sign a partnership agreement and commit to track diesel emissions, replace their older dirtier trucks with cleaner, newer ones, and achieve at least a 50 percent reduction in particulate matter (PM) and 25 percent reduction in nitrous oxide (NOx) below the national industry average within three years.
Then the SmartWay retailers sign a partnership agreement, committing to ship at least 75 percent of their port cargo with SmartWay trucking carriers within three years.
“By giving business priority to SmartWay drayage carriers, the program creates a market-driven approach to incentivize emissions reductions at port communities across the country,” EPA said.
This idea has worked well in the Pacific Northwest, for example,where market-based clean truck programs between stakeholders at the ports of Seattle and Tacoma have existed since 2008 and have removed hundreds of dirty drayage trucks from those port areas.