Every day, countless heavy duty diesel trucks and oil-burning cargo ships move tons of goods through U.S. ports, adding pollution to urban areas that may be suffering from poor air quality. As many ports across the nation are undergoing expansion projects and increased throughput of goods, environmental concerns have become a high profile issue. With the right tools and collaboration among stakeholders, however, ports have significant opportunity to lessen their environmental impact and improve local air quality.
Thankfully, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will host a National Port Stakeholders Summit next week, in Baltimore, Maryland to address challenges and advance sustainability at ports. The summit invites experts and stakeholders to share expertise, ideas, and actions to reduce the ecological impact of port operations.
EDF has been at the forefront of finding solutions to environmental challenges at ports across the nation. At the summit, EDF will lead a workgroup session to discuss key metrics that are used at ports to measure environmental performance, as well as how the metrics are used in everyday practice by port stakeholders. EDF has undertaken an initiative to highlight ports that have adopted best management strategies in an effort to encourage widespread adoption of policies that save money as well as lessen ecological impact.
A cohesive environmental recognition program is important because port activities can contribute significantly to pollution in nearby communities. In Houston, for example, over 3000 trucks a day visit the port, and are responsible for one-third of the pollution at the site. By recognizing exemplary ports, we hope to understand leading strategies to improve local air quality and develop an eco-conscious toolkit for stakeholders.
If we examine every sector of the global energy and transportation system, we can find numerous opportunities to reduce harmful air pollution and climate-disrupting greenhouse gas emissions. The upcoming EPA summit will provide a useful opportunity for port stakeholders and experts to reveal policies to maximize emissions reductions at our ports. The strategies we develop can serve as a useful example for ports around the world, helping to reduce the environmental footprint of the entire global freight transportation system.