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Oakland ‘committed to eliminating emissions’

Port asks for comments on draft of strategy to tackle diesel exhaust, greenhouse gases.

   The Port of Oakland has released a draft of an air quality improvement plan that calls for reducing pollutants and greenhouse gases at Oakland’s seaport.
  “This is a bold and ambitious plan. Achieving a zero-emissions seaport will take years, requiring substantial investments in transformative technology, new infrastructure and equipment,” said Richard Sinkoff, director of environmental programs and planning at the port and principal architect of its clean-air plan. “But we are 100 percent committed to eliminating emissions related to the movement of containerized trade, wherever and as soon as we can.”
   The Seaport Air Quality 2020 and Beyond Plan would transform how Oakland operates. It proposes everything from electric trucks to new infrastructure to eradicate freight transport emissions. It would attack both diesel particulate and greenhouse gas emissions.
   The port said its plan specifies three primary clean-air strategies:
    • Continuing with a 2009 plan that calls for an 85 percent reduction in diesel emissions by 2020;
    • Promoting a pathway to zero-emissions equipment and operations that reflects the state of California’s 2030 and 2050 greenhouse gas goals; 
    • And building out infrastructure — including electrical systems — to support a future less reliant on diesel-emitting cargo handling equipment and trucks.
   Acheiving zero-emission operations would mean most port trucks and terminal equipment would have to be powered by sources other than diesel fuel. Alternatives could include battery power or other fuel from renewable sources.
   Under the plan, vessels docking in Oakland would continue to “cold iron” — switch off engines and plug into the landside power grid for their electric needs. Nearly 80 percent of ships calling Oakland do that now.
   The port didn’t put a price tag on its plan, but said implementation would be costly. It added that “public sector funding and investments by businesses serving the port would be essential in moving toward emissions-free operations.”
   The port noted its plan “arrives as the state of California is formulating stricter regulations for cargo transport. The state is expected to curtail diesel-powered freight hauling and put tougher restrictions on all sources of emissions in the next few years. California ports, including Oakland, have developed their own plans in advance of new state mandates.”
    More than 1,500 ships visit the Port of Oakland annually carrying the equivalent of 2.5 million 20-foot containers. Between 3,000 and 5,000 trucks haul boxes daily at the port.
   The port says it has has reduced diesel emissions from those sources by 76 percent in the past decade, and wants “further reductions — ideally to zero — to mitigate the impact of trade on nearby communities and to abate climate change.”
   The port expects to have a final plan in place by the end of the year.

Chris Dupin

Chris Dupin has written about trade and transportation and other business subjects for a variety of publications before joining American Shipper and Freightwaves.