California Agency to Enforce Clean Air Goals

California Agency to Enforce Clean Air Goals

Southern California air quality regulators are proposing “backstop” rules to ensure the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach achieve the diesel emission goals established in their joint Clean Air Action Plan.

The South Coast Air Quality Management District said it will hold workshops on its proposed rules in April and intends to issue final rules by the end of the year.

Although the ports appear to be making progress in reducing harmful diesel emissions from vessels, marine terminal equipment, trucks, trains and harbor craft, the agency rules are intended to provide for enforcement in the event the goals are not met by the target dates.

The target date for particulate matter (PM2.5) reductions is in 2014 and the ozone deadline is 2023.

The ports’ clean-truck programs that are part of the overall Clean Air Action Plan took effect in October 2008 and are already close to the goal of reducing diesel emissions from trucks by 80 percent. More than 6,000 trucks that meet federal Environmental Protection Agency standards for 2007-model heavy-duty vehicles are now in service

In addition to reducing truck emissions, the ports are deploying a variety of voluntary and mandatory measures to reduce emissions from other sources. For example, the ports have incentive programs to encourage ocean carriers to slow-steam into port and switch to low-sulfur fuel in main and auxiliary engines.

The ports are using their terminal lease arrangements to phase in electrical shore power requirements for vessels at berth.

Also, terminal operators have switched to alternative sources of power for yard tractors and container-handling equipment. Railroads have re-powered locomotives and are using anti-idling technology on switch engines.

Southern California is a non-attainment area under the federal Clean Air Act. Executives at the regulatory agency maintain the backstop rules are needed to ensure that the ports contribute to reducing overall emissions in the region or federal transportation funds could be in jeopardy.

The port complex is the largest fixed source of air pollution in Southern California.

Contact Bill Mongelluzzo at bmongelluzzo@joc.com.