Texas Clean Air Matters

Selected tag(s): ports

Environmental Justice Leaders Call for Zero-Emission Strategies at Ports

Image Credit: Reinhard Link

There has been clean air progress at ports, but more leaders are calling for zero-emission strategies

When surveying the clean air progress in freight hubs like ports, community leaders and environmental advocates can see hard work has paid off.

But they also see we must do more as a nation to fully protect the health and environment of communities near goods movement corridors.

And when faced with the expected 45 percent growth in freight transportation from 2012 to 2040 – as well as the sound science linking diesel exhaust to damaging health effects like asthma – many leaders are calling for the next generation milestone for clean air efforts: zero-emission strategies. Read More »

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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.

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Irving Summit Hosts International Experts To Modernize The Global Transportation System

(Source: Getty Images)

We at EDF have written a lot about the need to transform the nation’s aging electricity system.  Now, more than ever, we have to transition away from fossil fuel electricity to reduce our out-of-control greenhouse gas emissions.  With renewables poised to make up a quarter of the world’s electricity mix by 2018, it appears we’re making steady progress toward a modern, clean energy grid.

But there’s another global energy system that’s often overlooked: the transportation system.  An overwhelming majority of the world’s transportation infrastructure is powered by fossil fuels.  Ordinary passenger vehicles, short and long-haul trucks, freight rail, and large cargo ships are all fueled by petroleum.  And unlike the grid, we’re still far from transitioning to a clean alternative.

EDF has spearheaded a number of initiatives to help reduce the environmental impact of transportation.  Last month, we released a request for proposals for a marine port environmental recognition program.  The program will help establish performance benchmarks for ports, so that we can identify and acknowledge those ports making strides toward reducing emissions and improving air quality.  EDF is also part of the brain trust of organizations, such as the National Research Council’s Transportation Research Board, working to understand the best practices to modernize the global transportation system and reduce transportation’s environmental footprint. Read More »

Posted in Air Pollution, Climate Change, Environment, GHGs, Goods Movement, Transportation / Also tagged , , , , | Comments are closed

Transportation Research Board Leads The Way In New Research To Inform Freight and Marine Decision Making

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 »

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New Funds Bring New Hope for Cleaner Houston Air

Photo by Dan Kamminga. Some tugboats slated to receive new engines are more than 30 years old.

We are pleased to hear the news about possible new funds coming to Houston to help improve air quality.

Under the National Clean Diesel Funding Assistance Program, Region 6 of the Environmental Protection Agency recently recommended two Houston-based grant proposals for full funding:

  1. With a grant proposal titled “Clean Vessels for Texas Waters Part 1: Mostly Main Engines,” the Houston-Galveston Area Council asked for replacement of six main engines and one generator engine for local tug/tow boats.
  2. The Port of Houston proposal requested funds for fuel switching, which involves oceangoing vessels switching to cleaner, low sulfur fuels.

While the proposals have yet to be finalized, the EPA recommendations for full funding represent an important step toward an actual offer.

How Reducing Diesel Engine Emissions Helps
Public health is the number one reason we continually seek ways to reduce diesel engine emissions. According to the EPA, air pollution is linked to a number of health problems including: Read More »

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New Collaborative Efforts to Help Clean Up Port Pollution

EDF Staffers Marcia Aronoff (from left), Mark MacLeod, and Elena Craft (far right), join Gina McCarthy, assistant administrator for EPA's Office of Air and Radiation, at today's SmartWay press conference in South Carolina.

Today’s press conference in Charleston, S.C., marked another successful milestone toward reducing trucking emissions and improving local health in and around our nation’s ports.

Together with the Coalition for Responsible Transportation, Environmental Defense Fund and the Port of Charleston announced an agreement today to join forces with the Environmental Protection Agency on a new goods movement initiative called the U.S. EPA SmartWay Drayage Program. This program builds a partnership between the retail industry and the trucking and port communities, among other stakeholders, to solve a critical health and environmental challenge: how to reduce harmful air emissions from port trucks.

Dray trucks, typically older and more polluting than long-haul trucks, operate in and around port areas and represent one of the largest sources of port diesel emissions. Consequently, EDF appreciates EPA’s significant efforts in developing tools and funding opportunities that will help secure better environmental performance of trucks that operate at these ports.

We also appreciate the strong leadership from our nation’s top retailers in committing to hire trucks that meet specific environmental performance standards. In a statement released today, Target’s Director of Import Operations and President of the CRT said, “This partnership will generate private sector investment in clean technology, improve the environmental quality of our nation’s port communities and demonstrate the commitment we have made as the shipping industry’s leaders to emissions reductions.”

As you’ve read on this blog before, EDF has been working with CRT for some time now on a “clean trucks initiative” building a partnership between the retail industry and trucking and port communities. Such collaboration, often including port authorities, truck owners, retailers, local agencies and more, is cropping up at ports across the U.S. helping drivers meet new requirements.

The launch of a similar effort was just made today in Maryland, for example. The University of Maryland Environmental Finance Center and the Mid-Atlantic Regional Air Management Association have created the Mid-Atlantic Dray Truck Replacement Program, which will offer financial support to replace trucks serving the Ports of Baltimore, Virginia, Philadelphia and Wilmington.

Complex issues require collaborative solutions. As the hazards of air pollution and the effects that air pollutants on human health become more evident, creative partnerships are necessary to solve the most difficult environmental challenges like port truck emissions.

The real victory in such partnerships is the immediate and lasting health benefits for the people who live in and around U.S. ports. Fewer deaths, fewer asthma attacks, fewer lost workdays and schooldays, and reduced health care costs are just a few of the rewards that we can look forward to as a result of our collective efforts.

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