At EDF, we are constantly ‘finding the ways that work’, and today’s announcement embodies that effort. EDF is requesting proposals to develop a Marine Port Environmental Recognition Program. This effort will enable port stakeholders to develop a program that uses best management practices with regard to environmental initiatives, specifically air pollution reduction at ports. The idea for the program was developed from a series of discussions with environmental leaders within the port industry, other port stakeholders, including the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and trade organizations, such as the Coalition of Responsible Transportation (CRT).
The aim of the program is to highlight motivated terminals and ports that are striving to reduce air pollution, help them identify more opportunities for improvement and measure the environmental gains from their efforts. The program will establish a robust mechanism for assessing environmental metrics– initially focusing on air pollution from port activities. A complementary effort will include the release of a toolkit with ideas and strategies to lessen the impact of emissions on air quality.
This program is critical to protecting our air quality. Ports are often identified as pollution hotspots and communities living close to ports are at a heightened risk for respiratory diseases, such as asthma and lung cancer. By reducing emissions from port operations, we will help save lives.
The Port of Houston, with support from EPA’s SmartWay Transport program, is an example of a port working to improve air quality and health standards for communities living in close proximity. At the Port of Houston, more than one-third of emissions come from 3,000 “drayage” trucks — diesel-fueled heavy duty trucks that move containers. By working with the port’s key stakeholders, EDF helped develop an innovative program, the Houston Drayage Loan Program, which makes it easier for truck owners to buy new, cleaner trucks and reduce air pollution around the port. It is estimated that by 2014, the program will result in a significant reductions of harmful air pollutants, such as 1,638 tons of nitrogen oxide, 239 tons of carbon monoxide and 3,636 tons of carbon dioxide.
Houston is not the only port striving to improve the air quality. EDF believes that by developing an initiative that recognizes best performers, we will reveal and share how different ports are effectively handling emissions, so others can replicate those successes.
Like many EDF programs, the proposed environmental recognition program helps relevant stakeholders understand where economic and environmental goals line up with proven strategies that help our communities. Having a system to evaluate environmental performance will help businesses consider the environmental costs when they compare various operational strategies. We hope that the environmental recognition program will reveal how shippers, ports, terminals and other stakeholders can employ common-sense practices to reduce their environmental impact.