The Northwest Clean Air Strategy is a proactive and voluntary effort of the ports of Seattle, Tacoma and Metro Vancouver (B.C.) to reduce greenhouse gas and diesel particulate emissions from maritime operations in advance of regulation. Developed in 2007 in collaboration with U.S. and Canadian regulatory agencies, this is the first and only tri‐port, bi‐lateral agreement to voluntarily reduce maritime emissions.
The program established short‐term goals (through 2010) and long‐term targets (through 2015) for ocean‐going vessels, cargo‐ handling equipment, rail, trucking and harbor vessels in ways that encourage innovation and take into account differing business needs. The ideas and approaches of the Northwest Ports Clean Air Strategy, as well as the ABC Fuels, ScRAPS, shore power, and Clean Truck Programs, have already been replicated at seaports around the globe.
The Port of Seattle’s implementation of the short‐term (2010) goals of the Northwest Ports Clean Air Strategy has significantly reduced emissions from port operations, as well as increased awareness of impacts of port operations on the health of surrounding communities and the environment.
The proactive and collaborative approach resulted in a very cost‐ effective program. The port has invested just over $5 million in the implementation of the short‐term (2010) strategy goals and leveraged in‐kind and grant funding whenever possible. Through these efforts, the Port of Seattle was able to reduce emissions from maritime operations while remaining competitive through one of the worst recessions in our nation’s history.
To ease air emissions impacts from the trucks, cargo-handling equipment, ships and trains that service this major American goods movement center, the Port of Long Beach developed its Mitigation Grant Programs. The programs aim to minimize the cumulative impact of port operations, reduce health risks for vulnerable populations and improve the quality of life in surrounding communities.
They provide funding for projects outside of port boundaries that reduce exposure to air pollution and lessen community health risks, particularly for people sensitive to air pollution, such as children, the elderly, and those with respiratory/ cardiopulmonary illnesses. When the port approves a development project with cumulative impacts that cannot be mitigated fully within the project, it can add funds to the program budgets.
At the end of April 2011, the Port of Long Beach had contributed $17.4 million to the mitigation grant fund, nearly $10 million of which was awarded to schools, youth facilities, hospitals and health care organizations for projects that mitigate port-related pollution impacts. These projects range from simple facility upgrades, like indoor air filters, to more comprehensive programs like asthma outreach initiatives and renewable energy projects.
In all cases, the port has tapped into the community’s existing infrastructure to create cost-effective mitigation programs embraced by local residents, as evidenced by the port’s recent recognition from the Westside Schools for Clean Air and the Interfaith Community Organization, two organizations representing port-adjacent communities long burdened by goods movement-related impacts.
The Port of Seattle’s Terminal 117 cleanup site, located in Seattle’s South Park neighborhood on the west bank of the Lower Duwamish Waterway, is a joint cleanup project by the Port of Seattle and the city of Seattle. Historically an asphalt manufacturing site, the T‐117 site was identified for early cleanup, before the larger river cleanup, under Superfund law due to high concentrations of PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls), dioxin/furans and other contaminants in the upland property, river bank and sediments in the waterway.
In late 2009 and 2010, the port, working in collaboration with the city and the EPA, planned and implemented a focused public involvement strategy to involve South Park in the development and review of a proposed plan to clean up the T‐117 site.
The community involvement and engagement strategy was designed to: 1) educate the community about the cleanup planning process; 2) build the community’s trust and capacity to participate in the process; and, 3) ensure that by the time the proposed cleanup plan was released to the public for formal comment, the plan alternatives would be acceptable and reflect the community’s values, concerns and aspirations for this neighborhood property.
The T‐117 public involvement plan included outreach tools ranging from ongoing community briefings to engaging minority women and their children while they waited in line at the local food bank on a special baby supply day that drew a large crowd. The port’s public involvement investment resulted in public acceptance and support for the proposed cleanup plan, community gratitude for the excellence of the public involvement program, and a community ready to participate in and help move forward the design and construction of the T‐117 cleanup, avoiding costly delays and ultimately leading to a cleaner and healthier environment.
In January 2009, the Virginia Port Authority teamed with Virginia’s drayage truck community, Virginia Clean Cities, the Mid-Atlantic Regional Air Management Association and Virginia Department of Environmental Quality to re-launch its diesel truck retrofit and replacemen program. The port’s “Green Operator,” or GO, program encourages local trucking companies serving the port to voluntarily retrofit and replace diesel trucks to reduce emissions associated with the movement of freight. Monetary incentives in the form of rebates and affordable financing are offered to all drayage truck owners. In September 2009, the port received $1.2 million in funding through the U.S. EPA and Virginia DEQ.
While the GO program had retrofitted or replaced 215 trucks by the end of its first full year, its goal is to have up to 350 trucks either retrofitted or replaced by the end of 2011 (equivalent to 20 percent of the pre-2004 trucks that enter port facilities daily). In addition, the GO program is expanding its efforts to other freight logistics sectors, including tug and tow, railroads and commercial ship lines. The GO program is serving as a model for ports throughout the Mid-Atlantic and Southeast regions, and the program has been recognized by the Coalition for Responsible Transportation and the Retail Industry Leaders Association for its proactive leadership.