April 2008

New strategy helps ports go green

The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has unveiled a new plan of action for working with public port authorities and other interested groups to reduce the environmental impacts of moving goods through ports.

The Vision, Mission, and Strategy for Sustainable Ports recognizes the steady growth in global maritime commerce and the critical role American ports and related transportation and supply chain partners play in managing the environmental impacts of moving goods across the country.

Ports are vital to the United States economy. Ocean-going ships move more than 99 percent of United States overseas trade (by weight). The top ten United States ports moved a combined total of 23 million cargo containers in 2006. The environmental challenges for ports and their transportation network include reducing air emissions, improving water quality, and protecting the health of communities near port facilities.

EPA’s Strategy focuses on six themes: Clean Air and Affordable Energy, Clean and Safe Water, Healthy Communities and Eco-systems, Global Environment, Ports Communications, and Enforcement.

There are more than 70 possible actions, including working with port authorities, their business partners and other sectors of the transportation industry to quantify and reduce air emissions from all sources along the shipping supply chain; setting up state innovative financing funds to help small owner-operators of diesel equipment finance the upgrading or replacement of older, dirtier engines; and collaborating with the international port community on innovative technologies and development of international standards.

EPA’s strategy complements the recent resolution and guiding principles on port sustainability issued by the American Association of Port Authorities (AAPA).

EPA programs will work with AAPA, individual port authorities, private port operators, transportation supply and logistics companies, government agencies, states, communities, and other interested groups to promote and implement sustainable practices at ports and their related operations.

EPA regions will work collaboratively with individual ports to select (from among the full menu of possible actions in the EPA Strategy) a specific set of activities to work on together. These shared action plans will address the unique environmental impacts and opportunities for ports in different parts of the country.