Category Archives: Transportation

Diesel Engines in Need of an Overhaul, but not Without More Funding

By: Christina Wolfe, EDF's Ports & Transportation Analyst

Source: autos.ca

Source: autos.ca

Despite the well-known health risks from diesel emissions and the economic consequences of unhealthy air, clean air projects are often stalled because they lack money. Fortunately, funding options for transportation-related clean air initiatives are available at the national, regional, and state levels. One of the key national sources of funding has been the Diesel Emissions Reduction Act (DERA), administered through the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). DERA provides up to $100 million each year through 2016 for reducing emissions from existing diesel engines, and recently, EPA announced that roughly $9 million is available for agencies seeking to undergo clean diesel projects.

DERA typically funds replacement, repower, and retrofit projects for diesel vehicles and equipment to improve air quality and public health by reducing hazardous air pollutants, like particulate matter and smog-forming pollutants, among others. Through the Request for Proposals, eligible applications are required to have a partnership with a local government or metropolitan planning organization, a public or private fleet of vehicles or equipment, and other interested entities (e.g., technology providers, community groups, etc.). Because of these unique partnerships, DERA has been able to make federal dollars go even further. The DERA partnership approach attracts public and private funding that, when combined with federal funds, allow for more emissions reductions. Both partners stand to gain a great deal in the way of enhancing business operations and improving local health and are eager to participate. In the end, for each federal dollar awarded, as much as $3 from non-federal sources is added to the project, and together these funds provide up to $7 – $18 in public health benefits. Read More »

Also posted in Air Pollution, Drayage, Environmental Protection Agency, Particulate Matter | Tagged | 2 Responses, comments now closed

Ten Years of SmartWay: Nearly Seventeen Billion Saved in Fuel Costs and Counting

EPA SmartWay 10This year Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is celebrating the 10 year anniversary of its SmartWay program, a voluntary program created to help freight companies move more goods across more miles without the extra emissions. Texas boasts more than 180 SmartWay partners and affiliates, including Dell, AT&T, and BNSF Railway to name a few, that have made a commitment to improve fuel efficiency, reduce diesel consumption, and increase sustainability along transportation routes. These pledges have turned into action as SmartWay partners across the nation have saved $16.8 billion in fuel costs, reduced oil consumption by more than 120.7 million barrels, and reduced 51.6 million metric tons of carbon dioxide across the nation – that’s equivalent to taking over 10 million cars off the road every year. Read More »

Also posted in Air Pollution, Environmental Protection Agency, Goods Movement, SmartWay | Comments closed

Newly Released Vehicle and Fuel Standards Will Clean Up U.S. Fleet and Improve Texas Air Quality

Source: Green Mountain Energy Cleaner Times

Source: Green Mountain Energy Cleaner Times

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently released updated Tier 3 vehicle emissions and fuel standards. The new standards are an update to the successful Tier 2 performance standards, which were finalized in 2000. Like the legacy Tier 2 program, the new Tier 3 standards will look at vehicles and fuels as a combined system to reduce both tailpipe pollution and gasoline sulfur content, improving urban air quality and saving billions of dollars in healthcare costs. Despite Tier 3’s projected benefits, lawmakers, and oil industry groups insist the standards are too costly. Of course, they fail to count the lasting health benefits from Tier 3—which more than outweigh the cost of the program.

The Benefits

The new fuel standards will instantly reduce emissions from every vehicle on the road once they are implemented in 2017, by reducing the amount of sulfur permitted in gasoline to 10 parts per million. Furthermore, the new vehicle tailpipe standards will cut smog-forming emissions by over 20 percent and fine particulate matter by 10 percent by 2030. EPA projects these vital emissions reductions will prevent between 770 and 2,000 premature deaths, 2,200 hospital admissions, and 19,000 asthma attacks annually by 2030, providing approximately $6.7 – $19 billion in annual health benefits. All of these benefits come at the low cost of less than one additional cent per gallon of gasoline, or about $72 per vehicle. Read More »

Also posted in Air Pollution, Clean Car Standards, Environmental Protection Agency | Tagged | Comments closed

Clean Air and Sustainability Are Important Topics for Transportation Researchers

(Source: Texas Public Radio)

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 »

Also posted in Air Pollution, Goods Movement, Houston, Ports | Tagged | Comments closed

“Think Local, Act Global” is a Win-Win for Texas

Para leer este artículo en español, haga clic aquí

Source: AmCham Colombia

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 »

Also posted in Air Pollution, En Español, Ports | Tagged , , , | Comments closed

Policy Summit Will Explore Environmental Justice And Disproportionate Health Risks In Houston

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 »

Also posted in Environment, Houston, Ports | Tagged , , | Comments closed

Clean Truck Initiatives Hit The Road In Texas And Make A Personal Impact

Para leer este artículo en español, haga clic aquí.

Courtesy of Juan Manuel Salazar

The following story about the clean truck program in Houston appears in the Fall 2013 issue of EDF’s Solutions newsletter. As we have highlighted before, ports are hotspots for air pollution and the best way to mitigate emissions from ships, trucks and other transportation equipment is to engage key stakeholders and find common sense solutions that provide access to cleaner, more efficient technologies. Below is a success story from Houston: Since the H-GAC Drayage Loan Program began in 2010, it has replaced almost 200 of the oldest, most polluting trucks with newer, cleaner ones. 

When Juan Manuel Salazar was hauling industrial materials all over Houston in his 1989 International truck, his two daughters worried. “They were concerned about me driving all day, then working half the night to fix the truck,” Salazar says. So it was no surprise that, as an owner-operator, Salazar jumped to qualify for a combined grant and low-interest loan program tailored by EDF and its partners such as the Houston-Galveston Area Council (H-GAC). Salazar invested in a cleaner 2012 Kenworth truck that uses less gas and goes farther without problems. “My daughters convinced me,” he says.

A few years before, an emissions inventory found that one-third of the toxic air pollution at the Port of Houston was spewed out by its 3,000-truck drayage fleet. The result was the loan program. Since its creation, almost 200 trucks in Houston have been updated. Read More »

Also posted in Clean Car Standards, Drayage, En Español, Goods Movement, Houston, SmartWay | Comments closed

Global Freight, Local Impact: Cleaner Air In Texas Through Partnerships Abroad

Para leer este artículo en español, haga clic aquí.

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 »

Also posted in En Español, Goods Movement, Houston, Ports | Tagged | Comments closed

Texas Freight Experts Present Supply Chain Ideas To South America

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.

Also posted in Environment, Goods Movement, Ports | Comments closed

Chinese Reverse Trade Delegation Visits Houston

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.

Also posted in Environment, Goods Movement, Houston, Ports | Tagged , , , , , , | Comments closed
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