Los Angeles & Long Beach Set Vision for Emissions Free Ports

Mayor Garcia and Mayor Garcetti after signing joint Executive Directive

The Port of Los Angeles and the Port of Long Beach, together, is one of the largest port complexes in the world. It is also the single largest fixed source of air pollution in Southern California. Nearly 40% of goods that enter this country by water enter through this port complex. The ships, trucks, trains, and equipment that haul our TVs, iphones, and tennis shoes to our door steps emit air pollution, and pollute our lungs. 

Low-income communities and communities of color, which disproportionately reside near busy ports, truck corridors, and railyards are the hardest hit. Exposure to diesel exhaust from vehicles and equipment that serve these facilities is associated with increased incidences of childhood asthma and premature death from lung cancer, heart disease, and stroke. The consequences are lives lost, sky-high medical bills, lost work and school days, and more. 

In the mid-2000’s NRDC primarily advocated for cleaner diesel vehicles and equipment at the ports. Over the last decade, our advocacy has changed. Due to technological advancements, and the region’s inability to meet federal clean air standards, we now seek a zero-emissions freight system. 

Today, the Mayors of Los Angeles and Long Beach set forth a bold vision for zero-emissions ports that will spur clean air initiatives responsive to the times.  The Mayors issued a joint Executive Directive that commits to:

  • Zero-emissions on-road truck fleet by 2035
  • Zero-emissions cargo handling equipment fleet by 2030
  • Pilot program for zero-emissions short haul drayage trucks
  • Expanded measures to reduce ship emissions at berth
  • Expanded technology advancement programs
  • Stakeholder group that includes LA DWP and Southern California Edison to ensure that the ports have the necessary electrical infrastructure
  • Clear public process to implement the Mayors’ vision within the Ports’ 2017 Clean Air Action Plan by November 2017
  • Green Ports Collaborative to work with other cities to grow the market for zero-emissions vehicles and equipment 

In short, the Executive Directive helps ensure that healthier communities are in reach. While the ports have made progress in reducing emissions over the years, much more work needs to be done. 

In this political climate, we need state and local leaders who will fight for clean air, healthy communities, and good jobs. Today, Los Angeles and Long Beach demonstrated that they are leaders, and that other cities must follow. Now the hard work begins.

About the Authors

Melissa Lin Perrella

Senior Director, Environmental Justice, Healthy People & Thriving Communities program

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