LA Ports Come Together Again to Reduce Air Pollution

This year is the 10th anniversary of the first time the two largest Southern California ports—the Port of Los Angeles and the Port of Long Beach—came together to launch a pioneering and ambitious plan called the Clean Air Action Plan to reduce air pollution from port operations.  For years the local communities and state and regional air regulators were banging down the ports’ doors demanding leadership, and the ports answered the charge. The result was the first of its kind, created with extensive stakeholder input—a joint plan by the two competitor ports on how they were going to reduce harmful diesel emissions to protect the local communities and the region.

Fast forward ten years later and there is much to celebrate. Many of the major pieces of that 2006 plan did result in significant reductions in harmful air pollution. The problem, however, is that the ports are still the largest single source of air pollution in the region, and our region still does not meet federal or state standards for air quality. The cancer risks and asthma rates from air pollution in the communities near the ports are still heartbreakingly and unacceptably high. 

The Board of Harbor Commissioners for the two ports came together last night, to kick off the third version of the Clean Air Action Plan—CAAP 3.0. The challenge before them now is clear: how to get port operations to 100% zero emission operations. There is broad consensus among port leadership, industry, local communities, and even the California Governor that the ultimate goal is zero emissions operations. The question is how to get there, and by when.

The draft of the CAAP 3.0 recently released by the ports sets a deadline of 2030 for all cargo handling equipment and 2035 for all drayage trucks to be zero emissions. After years of requests by the community for a concrete timeline, this is the first articulation of a deadline we have seen from port leadership. 

One of the key topics at the joint board meeting last night was whether we could reach the zero emissions goal faster, and the need to set up interim benchmarks along the way to turn over the fleets where possible, as soon as possible.

Both the Los Angeles and Long Beach Mayors were in attendance last night, and Los Angeles Mayor Garcetti urged the ports to be bold and asked if we can reach the goals faster, get dirty trucks off the road faster, and set clear measurable metrics for the journey ahead. Several of the port commissioners made similar comments. 

NRDC, along with a broad coalition of environmental justice, community, and public health organizations, will be engaging with the ports every step of the way. As Port of Los Angeles Commissioner Castellanos said during her remarks, lets build off of the ports’ draft plan, and make it the plan we all need it to be. Everyone living and breathing in our air basin is counting on us to get this right.

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