Source: Texas Public Radio
Air pollution and sustainability may not have been hot topics for transportation professionals in the past, but they were widely discussed during the 93rd Annual Meeting of the Transportation Research Board (TRB), a conference that brings together transportation professionals from around the world. And as we have highlighted in the past, air emissions from the transportation sector are of particular concern in Texas, and many at the conference took note of the state’s progress.
For instance, one panel highlighted efforts to reduce costly cargo truck delays at various Texas-Mexico border crossings. These truck delays occur due to a myriad of reasons, including rush-hour transit times and customs issues, but a recently launched initiative known as the Border Crossing Information System, or BCIS, is aiming to shorten these delays through accurate monitoring and reporting of truck queues and, in turn, reduce harmful air emissions. Read More
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Source: AmCham Colombia
Texas is a big player in international trade and leads the country in exports, sending over $260 billion worth of goods to overseas markets in 2012. While robust trade can bring many positives, it can also present challenges for local air pollution. As we have highlighted before, poor air quality is a growing concern as scientists learn more about the connection between air pollution and diseases, such as asthma, bronchitis and cancer.
What does that mean for a state trying to reduce the impact of freight transportation on urban air quality? As international trade growth continues to strengthen the Texas economy, EDF recognizes that diverse partnerships are pivotal to reducing air pollution here at home.
This week, we are pleased to share the latest of our outreach efforts targeting international freight shippers: our article was published in the AmCham-Colombia Spanish-language magazine Business Mail, in a special issue dedicated to corporate social responsibility. This trade publication reaches hundreds of leading companies engaged in international trade and will enable us to introduce EDF’s principles of green freight transportation to a new audience.
The Business Mail article considers the journey of Colombian coffee as it travels from the highlands of Colombia to stores in North America, transferring to various modes of transportation along the way. For each step of the journey, we highlight an approach that can improve efficiency and sustainability such as sharing container space or choosing fuel-efficient cargo ships. The bottom line of the story is that decisions about trucks, ships and trains made globally can directly impact the quality of air that we breathe in Texas. Read More
Source: The Beat News
On Thursday, health and policy experts will gather in Houston for the Invisible Houston Revisited Three Decades Later Policy Summit at Texas Southern University. The summit will explore and expand upon the topics and themes highlighted in Dr. Robert D. Bullard’s 1987 book Invisible Houston.
Dr. Bullard’s groundbreaking book revealed that Houston’s municipal authorities disproportionally sited environmental hazards, such as garbage dumps and incinerators, in neighborhoods predominately occupied by minorities. Since then, Dr. Bullard, “father of environmental justice” and current Dean of the School of Public Affairs at Texas Southern University, has led the charge for Environmental Justice, the concept that environmental laws and policies should not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin or income. His advocacy work culminated in the Environmental Justice Executive Order signed by President Bill Clinton in 1994, which codified the values of Environmental Justice into law.
Since then, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has sought to advance Environmental Justice across the federal government, including developing guidance to consider environmental justice in EPA rulemakings. Ultimately, the goal of this mission is to eliminate the disproportionate impact of industrial activities on environmental justice communities. Read More
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Improving Texas air quality requires a broad coalition. How broad? Well, we know that much of the commerce that is transported through the state either has a foreign origin or destination. Although the delivery takes place in our backyard, many of the crucial decisions that affect that route are made elsewhere. That’s why EDF participated in the 5th Annual Forum on Supply Chain Sustainability in Buenos Aires, Argentina last week.
As the keynote speaker, I provided an overview of EDF’s vision for freight and supply chain sustainability, shared some of our clean air success stories from Houston and presented our “Five Principles for Greener Freight.” I also met with key stakeholders in the international trade and transportation sector, including the Buenos Aires Institute of Technology (ITBA), which is in the midst of developing a study center geared toward sustainable freight strategies. The forum was a tremendous learning opportunity that will enable EDF to strengthen its advocacy at home in Texas by bringing together new partners and applying key lessons from our neighbors.
Many of the challenges Houston and other port cities face in the United States are similar to those in Argentina, such as older, polluting trucks dominating short distance service, lack of sufficient data to make informed sustainability decisions and difficulty in making long-term investments for cleaner, more efficient technology upgrades. Read More
More and more companies are taking an interest in supply chain sustainability and realizing that environmental responsibility is important for business success in the U.S. and abroad. Additionally, Latin America is a key trading partner for Texas and the fastest growing trade region for the United States. It goes without saying that as trade in the Americas expands, companies, governments and organizations throughout the region should increase cooperation on freight sustainability.
Given the growing demand for green logistics, Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) is pleased to speak at the 5th Forum on Sustainability and Supply Chain to be held next week in Buenos Aires, Argentina. This distinctive event plays an important role in Latin America by bringing together practitioners, experts, advocates and business leaders to advance supply chain sustainability.
The forum is hosted by Foro Logística and WebPicking.com, a group that specializes in supply chain logistics in Latin America, and will take place at the Technological Institute of Buenos Aires (ITBA). We look forward to sharing our experience promoting green freight with regional partners and learning about successful strategies that can be implemented in Texas.
A couple of weeks ago, the China Green Ports Technology Reverse Trade Mission brought Chinese transportation officials to Houston to introduce them to U.S. technologies and the trade industry’s best practices to reduce ports’ environmental impact. Green port technologies are of particular interest in China, because seven of the ten largest ports in the world are located in China. The Chinese government and private sector are making efforts to modernize and strengthen China’s maritime management, while reducing its environmental footprint.
The purpose of the mission was to introduce the delegates to innovative technologies and service provider firms associated with green ports. As I spoke with the delegation, the conversation focused on many of the same efforts we are pursuing in the U.S. and right here in Texas, including:
- Reducing the environmental impact of our nation’s seaports;
- Improving the health of communities affected by port activities;
- Increasing the efficiency and sustainability of ports;
- Highlighting best management practices currently deployed at leading ports.
As we move forward with developing a port recognition system to highlight green port efforts across the nation, we know that our partners to the East are thinking likewise. We look forward to continued conversations such as these with new partners on novel technologies, continually improving port environmental impacts.
Recent years have seen significant changes in the global freight and supply chain system. An expanded Panama Canal, significant population growth in the South and Southeast, and new infrastructure and system resiliency demands pose a challenge to our aging freight transportation system. It is crucial for researchers, policy makers and practitioners to work together and prioritize research to overcome these new challenges. Fortunately, the National Research Council’s Transportation Research Board (TRB) is working with stakeholders, including EDF, to advance critical research efforts that will help modernize the global transportation system.
Earlier this month, TRB reviewed ongoing research for marine and freight transportation. In doing so, TRB also established priorities for future studies, with an overarching goal to “promote innovation and progress in transportation.” EDF will partner with TRB to champion innovative research and facilitate a transition to cleaner and more efficient marine and freight transportation choices going forward.
Texas faces many pressing transportation issues of its own. Record traffic growth, rapid expansion at the Port of Houston, booming population growth across the state, and a flurry of oil and gas drilling activity all pose unique infrastructure and air quality challenges to the Lone Star State.
A key transportation challenge faced by Texas is congestion at its U.S.-Mexico border crossings. Emissions from idling trucks at crowded border crossings have brought air pollution concerns in border cities such as El Paso and Laredo. The Texas Department of Transportation is collaborating with the Texas A&M Transportation Institute to develop a tool to help streamline border crossings. The Border Crossing Information System provides drivers, carriers and other stakeholders with real-time and historical information about border crossing wait-times and delays. The data make it easy for truck drivers to understand congestion patterns, thereby reducing vehicle idling and harmful air emissions. Read More
Also posted in Air Pollution, Environment, Goods Movement, Houston, Transportation
Tagged air quality, Border, Emissions, Ozone, ports, Texas, Transportation, Transportation Research Board
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. Read More
This week, I participated in a panel at the Georgia Foreign Trade Conference titled: “Beyond the Headlines – How the industry implements environmental improvements.” The panel represented some of the biggest powerhouses in the port industry talking about environmental performance and sustainability, including:
- James Jack, Executive Director, Coalition for Responsible Transportation (CRT)
- Dean Tracy, Director of Import Transportation, Lowe’s
- Curtis Foltz, Executive Director, Georgia Ports Authority
- Tony Chiarello, President and CEO, TOTE, Inc.
- Rick Gabrielson, Senior Director, International Transportation, Target Corporation
Peter Tirschwell, Senior Vice President of Strategy, UBM Global Trade, Journal of Commerce, moderated the discussion.
Each of the speakers shared some new and exciting initiatives going on within their organizations. Some of the highlights included:
- Information on the two new LNG containerships recently purchased by Tony’s company, TOTE. Scheduled to be operational on short hauls in US waters in 2014, the over 700 foot long containerships are expected to be the largest ships of any type in the world to be primarily powered by liquefied natural gas (LNG). This new technology was developed as part of an effort for short sea shippers to comply with the new fuel standards that have been adopted as part of the emission control area (ECA).
- New environmental efforts underway at the Georgia Ports Authority include the first electric rubber tired gantry crane
Georgia Foreign Trade Conference
- Corporate sustainability initiatives underway at Lowe’s
- Corporate sustainability initiatives underway at Target
- The Coalition for Responsible Transportation, an industry association committed to supporting sustainability efforts at ports
I’d like to thank Georgia Ports Authority for the invitation to participate in this year’s conference, and for their leadership in incorporating environmental sustainability as part of their overall strategic plan. Recognizing and highlighting powerful players focused on sustainability and best practices in the industry is just plain good business.
Also posted in Transportation
Last October, Environmental Defense Fund co-hosted a workshop with the American Association of Port Authorities (AAPA) on performance metrics at ports. On Thursday, January 17, a group of thought leaders from the October workshop gathered to memorialize the workshop and discuss how those metrics might be used to highlight top performing ports with regard to environmental performance. The meeting specifically focused on air pollution as related to the movement of containers at large ports.
The diverse set of participants represented some of the nation’s largest ports, including Port of Long Beach, Port of Seattle, Virginia Ports Authority, Port of Houston Authority, Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, Jacksonville Port Authority as well as the Environmental Protection Agency, AAPA, and the Coalition for Responsible Transportation. Discussion ranged from typical terminal performance metrics currently in place at ports to cutting edge environmental initiatives that are underway as well as considerations on how to be inclusive of differences in port size and management/operational structures.
As the collaborative process of developing a recognition program for top performing ports and terminals moves forward, EDF and other stakeholders will be reaching out to additional constituencies to ensure that the group develops an environmental performance toolkit that balances local needs and circumstances while addressing industry-wide challenges. We envision that the performance metric toolkit will encompass a variety of modes and sectors of activity at ports, including ships, heavy-duty trucks, cargo handling equipment, rail, and harbor craft. Many ports currently have programs that mitigate emissions from these sectors and the toolkit is anticipated to serve as a foundation for highlighting top environmental performers in the field.
As supply chain sustainability becomes a more visible concern, federal health-based air quality standards are strengthened, and the Panama Canal expansion presents new opportunities for the shipping industry, we expect that the effort to establish environmental performance metrics will help drive efficiency and environmental improvements at ports. Together, with our stakeholders, we look forward to continuing the dialogue and building an effective tool for port sustainability and environmental recognition.