Port of Long Beach progresses towards zero-emission future

To support a goal of a zero-emissions truck fleet by 2035, the Californian Port of Long Beach will start collecting its Clean Truck Fund Rate on April 1, 2022.

The rate for nonexempt trucks of $10 per twenty-foot equivalent unit – a standard measure for one 20-foot-long cargo container – was set in March 2020 by the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles to encourage the trucking industry to invest in cleaner vehicles and reach zero emissions.

Zero-emissions trucks are exempt from the rate, and the Port of Long Beach has approved an expiring exemption for the cleanest natural gas-powered trucks as a transitional step to a future when zero-emissions cargo trucks are widely available.

Port of Long Beach
A zero-emissions truck drives on the replacement for the Gerald Desmond Bridge (soon to be officially named the Long Beach International Gateway) during the bridge’s grand opening on Oct. 2, 2020. Photo: Port of Long Beach

The Clean Truck Fund rate is expected to generate $90 million in the first year, or $45 million per port. As part of 8 November action, the Board of Harbor Commissioners approved an initial funding prioritization for both low-nitrogen oxides and zero-emissions trucks, with at least 10% of the funds to be provided to zero-emissions trucks.

“As cargo volume continues to break records, it’s critical that we transition to a zero-emissions fleet,” said Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia.

“Our Clean Truck Fund is a bold step forward towards cleaner air and addressing our climate crisis.”

“We are the Green Port,” stressed Harbor Commission President Steven Neal.

“Speeding progress toward the zero-emissions trucks goal is important, in spite of the business uncertainties created by the pandemic. There should never be any doubt that we will fulfill this promise. This rate allows us to balance aggressively pursuing zero-emissions goals with economic vitality and competitiveness.”

“Reaching zero emissions will take intense collaboration among our trucking and other goods movement partners. The good news is that we’ve already achieved a great deal with our Clean Truck Program. This is one more step toward a cleaner future we will all be proud of,” said Port of Long Beach Executive Director Mario Cordero.

Phasing out older, more polluting trucks has been key to clean air gains the San Pedro Bay ports have made since the original Clean Truck Program was launched in 2008. Diesel emissions from trucks have been cut by as much as 97% compared to 2005 levels. Trucks remain the Port’s largest source of greenhouse gas emissions and the second highest source of nitrogen oxides, a contributor to regional smog formation.

The Clean Air Action Plan (CAAP) has established a goal of zero-emissions trucks by 2035. A key component of the overall strategy to transition to a zero-emissions truck fleet is an updated Clean Truck Program incentivizing the development and adoption of new technology.

Updated in 2017, the CAAP contains a comprehensive strategy to accelerate progress toward a zero-emissions future while protecting and strengthening the ports’ competitive position in the global economy.

Since 2005, port-related air pollution emissions in San Pedro Bay have dropped 89% for diesel particulate matter, 63% for nitrogen oxides and 97% for sulfur oxides. Targets for reducing greenhouse gases (GHGs) from port-related sources were introduced as part of the 2017 CAAP Update. The document calls for the ports to reduce GHGs to 40% below 1990 levels by 2030 and 80% below 1990 levels by 2050. The CAAP was originally approved in 2006.

In October, the Port of Long Beach announced it achieved all of the 2023 emission-reduction goals outlined in CAAP, despite moving record volumes of containerized cargo.

The port’s annual emissions inventory report found diesel soot is down 90%, smog-forming nitrogen oxides have decreased 62%, and sulfur oxides have decreased 97%, all while container throughput has increased 21%.

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