LA, Long Beach double down on clean ports goal

LA, Long Beach double down on clean ports goal

Long Beach mayor Robert Garcia, left, and Los Angeles mayor Eric Garcetti reaffirm their commitment to making port operations more environmentally sustainable.

The mayors of Los Angeles and Long Beach this week reaffirmed the commitments of their ports to work toward adoption of zero-emission trucks and cargo-handling equipment and to further reduce pollution from vessels while continuing to grow the cargo base of the largest US port complex.

This commitment to balance environmental sustainability with sound business practices, which has been an ongoing demand of port users and cargo owners, will be embodied in the latest version of the ports’ joint Clean Air Action Plan (CAAP) that should be finalized in November.

“Our ports are the engines that power our economy. They must also be the forces that drive our region toward a greener, more sustainable future,” Los Angeles mayor Eric Garcetti said Monday when the two cities signed a joint declaration.

“With the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach ranked as the nation’s two largest ports, it is crucial to double down on our commitment to combatting climate change by achieving the goals of the Paris Agreement and by committing to zero emissions goals for the Clean Air Action Plan,” said Long Beach mayor Robert Garcia.

The mayors’ joint declaration came as Los Angeles and Long Beach are finalizing the third iteration of their landmark CAAP that was adopted in 2006 and updated in 2010.

Port staff since late last year has been holding public meetings and gathering written comments from stakeholders and local communities on the final version of CAAP 3.0. Port staff intends to deliver the final version in November to the two harbor commissions for adoption, Rick Cameron, managing director of planning and environmental affairs at the Port of Long Beach, said Tuesday.

The Southern California mayors emphasized that their ports will remain competitive despite the recent action by the Trump administration to pull the United States out of the Paris Climate Agreement, which has been adopted by almost 200 nations with input from many of the world’s top climatologists and the backing of the world’s leading and largest corporations.

Cameron said that achieving a balance between environmental sustainability and cargo growth is crucial to the competitive position of the Southern California ports. “We don’t want to be the outlier,” he said. However, all ports at their state and local levels contend with the same pollution and health-risk issues that face Los Angeles-Long Beach, so they are also under pressure to reduce harmful emissions from port operations.

In this latest revision of CAAP, the two greatest areas of concentration are trucks and cargo-handling equipment, where zero- and near-zero emission technologies have advanced the furthest. The ports’ clean-truck programs, which mandate the use of 2007 or newer model trucks, have reduced emissions by more than 90 percent compared with the pre-2007 model year trucks that formerly dominated harbor haulage and are still in widespread use at many other US ports. CAAP 3.0 intends to promote a zero-emission drayage fleet by 2035 as electric and battery-power technology is developed.

The ports also intend to implement similar technology for cargo-handling equipment. As the Middle Harbor terminal in Long Beach and the TraPac terminal in Los Angeles complete their automation projects over the next two years, they will approach zero-emissions with their electric cargo-handling equipment. Automation is quite costly, however, so the ports are working with technology providers as they develop zero- and near-zero emission equipment for non-automated terminals, Cameron said.

The ports have significantly reduced emissions from vessels at berth through mandatory electric plug-in technology (cold-ironing), and vessels in transit through slow-steaming requirements within coastal waters. Emissions from vessels in transit during the long voyages from Asia and other markets to the United States are being addressed by the low-sulfur fuel requirements of the International Maritime Organization that will take effect in 2020. Since those regulations are international in scope, the competitiveness of the Southern California ports will not be affected, he said.

Cameron noted that the ports are also working to comply with regulatory requirements affecting freight transportation developed by the South Coast Air Quality Management District and the California Air Resources Board. The ports will also ensure that their stakeholders have access to any grants and other financial incentives that are available at the state level to foster compliance with California regulations, he said. Likewise, the ports continue to promote innovations through the technology advancement program under the CAAP, which provides financial assistance for development and testing of technologies that reduce emissions.

Contact Bill Mongelluzzo at and follow him on Twitter: @billmongelluzzo.