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Emissions Reductions Persist at Port of LA

November 3, 2014

Photo: The Port of Los Angeles

Photo: The Port of Los Angeles

Annual Inventory of Air Emissions Indicates Drops in Major Pollution Categories

The Port of Los Angeles continues to make strides in cutting pollution from ships, trucks, trains, cargo-handling equipment and harbor craft, according to the latest annual inventory of emissions from port-related mobile sources.

The Port’s 2013 Inventory of Air Emissions shows the Port has set new records with diesel particulate matter (DPM) down 80 percent, nitrogen oxides (NOx) down 57 percent and sulfur oxides (SOx) down 90 percent over eight years of aggressive clean air measures. The findings also reflect progress in curbing greenhouse gases (GHG), down 23 percent since the San Pedro Bay Ports Clean Air Action Plan (CAAP) was adopted in 2006.

“The Port of Los Angeles has made significant progress on the path to a healthier future and is on track to do more,” said Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti. “We are proud to be an industry leader both internationally and in California, a state known for the world’s highest environmental standards.”

“This Port’s commitment to clean air is stronger than ever,” said Port of Los Angeles Executive Director Gene Seroka. “These latest results show that our industry partners, who have been key to our success all along, are voluntarily expanding their sustainable practices to ensure these gains will last.”

The latest clean air gains were made during a year in which no major regulations took effect. While ongoing strategies continue to pay off, the numbers show the highest participation to date by ship owners and operators in the Port’s voluntary Vessel Speed Reduction Incentive Program. In 2013, 97 percent of ships reduced their speed to 12 knots within 20 nautical miles of the Port, and 83 percent slowed down within 40 nautical miles. Slower speeds conserve fuel and lower NOx emissions.

Similarly, the number of newer clean trucks is on the rise. Although heavy-duty trucks with 2007 model year engines meet the requirement for drayage trucks allowed in the Port, the trend among companies updating their fleets is to buy 2010 or newer models. Today, 26 percent of the drayage moves to and from the Port are handled by trucks with engines that meet 2010 emissions standards – the cleanest engines on the market.

The Port’s Inventory of Air Emissions tracks the progress of a comprehensive suite of clean air measures, requirements and incentives to reduce harmful emissions from mobile sources associated with port operations. The latest findings are based on data from the 2013 calendar year and compared with data collected annually since the baseline year of 2005. Calculations that factor in fluctuations in cargo activity reinforce the findings.

DPM is a toxic contaminant and known carcinogen, NOx and SOx are key components of smog, and GHG emissions contribute to global warming and are associated with climate change. The Port’s advances in curbing GHG emissions aligns with the state’s goal of an 80 percent reduction below 1990 levels by 2050.

The CAAP incorporates 2014 and 2023 regional goals for reducing DPM, NOx and SOx emissions. The Port met both DPM reduction goals two years ahead of schedule and, as of the 2013 inventory, exceeded the 2023 target (79 percent). The Port surpassed its 2014 NOx reduction goal (22 percent) in 2009 and is two percentage points shy of its 2023 target (59 percent) for NOx.

Similarly, the Port is within three percentage points of its 93 percent SOx reduction target, the same for 2014 and 2023. With two new vessel requirements that took effect January 1, 2014, the Port is expected to meet the goal. The first is California’s shore power regulation, which establishes rules for container, refrigerated and cruise vessels to run on shore-side electricity while at berth in Los Angeles and five other ports. Plugging into shore power reduces ship engine emissions by up to 95 percent per vessel call.

The second regulation requires ships within 24 nautical miles of California to run on the cleanest available marine fuel whose sulfur content is at or below 0.1 percent. The mandate represents a significant drop from 2012 sulfur content limits of 1.0 percent for marine gas oil and 0.5 percent for marine diesel oil. Effective Jan. 1, 2015, the requirement will extend to waters within 200 nautical miles of all of North America.

The Port’s overall success continues to be reflected in the dwindling share of emissions its activity contributes to the South Coast Air Basin. The region is home to 16.8 million people and takes in portions of Los Angeles, San Bernardino and Riverside counties and all of Orange County.

Today, 6.1 percent of all SOx emissions throughout the South Coast Air Basin are attributable to Port operations – down from 25 percent in 2005. Likewise, Port-related DPM emissions are now at 4.8 percent, compared with 10 percent; and NOx emissions have shrunk to 3.5 percent from 5 percent.

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