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Bill DiBenedetto headshot

EPA Port Grants Help Spur Clean Diesel, Sustainable Technologies


A new Environmental Protection Agency initiative will recognize U.S. ports that act to improve their environmental performance.

It’s a good idea because port areas generate some of the worst diesel emission problems in the nation, whether it’s from the cargo ships that dock at terminals without powering down their engines, the terminal equipment that services the ships, or the hundreds of trucks moving to and from terminals to load and unload the cargo.

The inaugural “Advancing Sustainable Ports” summit last week in Baltimore recognized ports that are trying to be good environmental stewards and also doled out $4.2 million in grant funding for clean diesel projects at six U.S. ports. Grant recipients included:

  • Port of Seattle: $1.2 million in incentives to replace 40 older heavy-duty drayage trucks with trucks powered by 2010 or newer certified engines. The project will supplement the port’s existing truck replacement program, EPA said.

  • Port Hueneme, Calif.: $500,000 to complete electrification of Wharf No. 1 and allow the port to supply shoreside power to ocean-going vessels at all three berths simultaneously, thereby reducing emissions from ship idling.

  • Port of Tacoma, Wash.: $601,949 to repower a Tier 0 switcher locomotive with a Tier 3+ engine equipped with an automatic start-stop system to reduce idling.

  • Maryland Port Administration: $750,000 to provide incentives to replace 35 pre-1997 model year drayage trucks in service at the Port of Baltimore with trucks powered by 2010 or newer certified engines.

  • Virginia Port Authority: $750,000 to replace three Tier 1 shuttle carriers with Tier 4 hybrid diesel-electric shuttle carriers in operation at the Port of Virginia.

  • City of Los Angeles Harbor Department: $469,000 to retrofit 14 pieces of cargo handling equipment with diesel particulate filters at the Port of Los Angeles.

Over the past eight months EPA has led a “national conversation” on ports to share information, goals and successes of ports in reducing emissions and improving environmental performance. With most of the country’s busiest ports located in or near large metropolitan areas, people in nearby communities can be exposed to high levels of pollution, the EPA said. “For example, diesel powered port equipment can seriously impact air quality for nearby residents and generate substantial greenhouse gas and black carbon emissions. Implementing clean air strategies at ports will reduce emissions and provide health benefits from improved air quality for workers and families who live nearby.”

The agency’s new ports initiative program will work with port authorities to develop emission measurement tools, in order to help ports better understand their energy use and environmental impact.

It’s a good start, but only $4.2 million in incentive grants? This is a huge national problem that’s going to need much more funding and port involvement.

Image: Port of Seattle by Bill DiBenedetto

Bill DiBenedetto headshotBill DiBenedetto

Writer, editor, reader and generally good (okay mostly good, well sometimes good) guy trying to get by.

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