EPA Unveils $4 Billion Port Pollution Plan

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The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will invest $4 billion to develop two new programs aimed at reducing port pollution and vehicle emissions.

The Clean Ports Program announced Friday that it will invest $3 billion in technologies to reduce harmful air and climate pollutants at U.S. ports by building on the EPA’s existing Ports Initiative. The new program aims to boost investments for zero-emission port equipment and technology that reduces climate and air pollutants and improves air quality at ports and surrounding communities.

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The Clean Heavy-Duty Vehicle Program will invest $1 billion to reduce vehicle emissions and protect the health of the people living and working near ports, schools and other truck routes. It offers funding to offset the costs of replacing heavy-duty commercial vehicles with zero-emission vehicles, deploy infrastructure to charge, fuel and maintain these vehicles, and develop and train the necessary workforce.

The programs are part of the Biden administration’s broader plan to strengthen U.S. infrastructure, a key pillar of President Joe Biden’s “Investing in America” agenda to grow the American economy “from the bottom up and the middle out” by investing into private-sector industries like manufacturing, clean energy and semiconductors.

Additionally, the $4 billion allocated toward both programs comes from the Inflation Reduction Act signed by Biden last August as the most ambitious and expensive climate legislation in U.S. history, offering funding, programs and incentives to accelerate the transition to a clean energy economy.

Under the law, spending related to climate and clean energy programs will reach $391 billion, according to Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates.

Both programs also advance President Biden’s Justice40 initiative to direct 40 percent of the overall benefits of certain federal investments to disadvantaged communities.

“Thanks to President Biden’s historic investments in America, we are transforming our nation’s infrastructure for the better, all while protecting the health of underserved communities that are too often overburdened by pollution,” said EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan in a statement. “With $4 billion in funding for clean ports and clean transportation from the Inflation Reduction Act, we can deliver cleaner air and healthier communities, support good-paying jobs and strengthen local economies.”

Regan announced the funding and request for information with Senator Jon Ossoff (D-Ga.) while touring the Port of Savannah in Georgia, where EPA has previously awarded the Georgia Ports Authority over $9 million in Diesel Emission Reduction Act (DERA) funds to reduce diesel emissions and improve air quality by upgrading and replacing older freight trucks, cargo handling equipment and marine engines with cleaner models.

“I continue working to upgrade Georgia’s port infrastructure and establish Georgia as the national leader in advanced energy technology,” Ossoff said. “I thank President Biden and Administrator Regan for their attention to Georgia’s ports and their support for Georgia’s economic development and environmental quality.”

The DERA Program funds grants that protect human health and improve air quality by reducing harmful emissions from diesel engines, including low- and zero-emission port projects such as cleaner freight trucks; crane and yard tractor upgrades; ferry and tugboat replacements; and shore power installations.

This announcement comes a week after the California Air Resources Board (CARB) approved a first-of-its-kind rule that requires a phased transition toward zero-emission medium-and-heavy duty vehicles. The state requires zero-emission trucking statewide by 2045 but starts out by targeting the same heavy-duty trucks and yard equipment in the Biden plan. California beings a phase-out next year by only registering new zero-emission trucks and targeting the full transition for the trucks and equipment at the ports by 2035.

EPA’s new Clean Ports and Heavy-Duty Vehicle programs will go a step further to reduce emissions and improve community air quality through electrification and other zero-emissions technologies while strengthening the clean energy supply chain.

As part of the programs, the EPA is now seeking public input to inform their development to improve the agency’s understanding of zero-emission trucks and port equipment, as well as their associated charging and fueling infrastructure requirements.

The EPA invites manufacturers, fleets, ports, municipalities, school districts, utilities and other stakeholders with zero-emission technology experience or understanding to respond by June 5.

The agency noted that is especially interested in comments detailing the availability, market price and performance of zero-emission trucks, zero-emission port equipment, electric charging and other fueling infrastructure needs for zero-emission technologies, and to what degree the content and components of these systems are manufactured in the U.S.

The EPA said it will use this information to create programs that quickly fund available zero-emission technologies and consider appropriate ways to accommodate technologies available in the near term.

The EPA’s Ports Initiative provides tools and assistance to help accelerate adoption of cleaner technologies, clean air planning practices such as emissions inventories, and community engagement to address diesel emissions at U.S. ports.

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