SAN PEDRO, CA – Findings from its 10th consecutive year of tracking air pollution show the Port of Los Angeles has set new records for cutting harmful emissions from port-related sources, with diesel particulate matter (DPM) down an unprecedented 85 percent and sulfur oxides (SOx) bordering on total elimination, having plummeted 97 percent since 2005. The data also shows the Port has surpassed its 2014 emission reduction goals set in 2010 for DPM, SOx and nitrogen oxides (NOx).
Released today, the Port’s 2014 Inventory of Air Emissions reports NOx emissions are down 52 percent. The percentage fell slightly from the Port’s best year for NOx reduction – 57 percent in 2013 – largely due to congestion experienced at all West Coast ports during fall 2014.
“Today our efforts to make Los Angeles the most sustainable city in America take another step forward,” said Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti. “Our aggressive clean air program at the Port shows that we can grow our economy while reducing pollutants up to 97%. Overall, the business of moving cargo through America’s no. 1 container port is cleaner than ever, and that directly improves the quality of life for families across Southern California.”
“Our strategies for operating a sustainable port withstood the cargo congestion challenges we faced in late 2014,” said Port Executive Director Gene Seroka. “With the ongoing investments in clean technology made by the Los Angeles Harbor Department, our customers and supply chain stakeholders, we are committed to forge ahead with measures that protect these gains and continue to reduce emissions.”
The detailed inventory measures emissions of key pollutants from ships, trucks, locomotives, cargo handling equipment and small harbor craft. The latest findings are based on data collected during calendar year 2014. The baseline is 2005, the year before the landmark San Pedro Bay Clean Air Action Plan (CAAP) was adopted, allowing the Port to measure the full impact of the comprehensive program from the start.
In 2014, the Port moved more than 8.3 million Twenty–Foot Equivalent Units (TEUs), its highest container volume in seven years. Calculations that factor in fluctuations in container volumes reinforce last year’s gains.
Much of the progress in 2014 is attributable to vessel emission reduction measures. Leading programs include plugging into shore power under the state’s at-berth regulation, which took effect Jan. 1, 2014. At least half of most container, refrigerated and cruise ships calling at California’s six largest ports are now required to run their auxiliary engines on shore-based electricity, which eliminates virtually all emissions while a vessel is at berth.
Also in 2014, the state required vessels entering California waters to switch to the cleanest available marine fuel. As of Jan. 1, 2014, ships must run on fuel whose sulfur content is at or below 0.1 percent within 24 nautical miles of the California coast. The regulation took effect a full year ahead of the requirement now in place out to 200 nautical miles for all North America.
Participation in the Port’s Vessel Speed Reduction Program to reduce emissions remains high. In 2014, 95 percent of ships calling slowed to 12 knots within 20 nautical miles of the Port and 84 percent did so within 20 to 40 nautical miles.
“These measures were crucial to last year’s breakthroughs because ships remain the largest single source of air pollution from port-related sources,” said Christopher Cannon, Director of Environmental Management at the Port. “The benefits of shore power are expected to grow in the coming years as the practice becomes routine and the state phases in higher mandatory compliance rates.”
Vessels also played a major role in the 6 percent uptick of NOx emissions in 2014. During the temporary period of congestion, container ships waiting at anchor increased 69 percent from the previous year. Since plugging into shore-based electricity to power auxiliary engines was not an option, emissions increased. The short-lived situation carried over into early 2015 and will be a factor in next year’s inventory.
To ensure clean air progress continues, especially with container volume projected to grow in the years ahead, the Port, along with the Port of Long Beach, reviews and updates the entire CAAP periodically. “The CAAP is a living document,” Cannon said. “We revised it 2010, and we are now preparing the next update.”
The Port’s overall success is reflected in how quickly it has met its own ambitious pollution reduction targets for 2014 and 2023. The Port met both DPM milestones (72 percent and 77 percent) two years ago, and it exceeded the 2014 NOx target (22 percent) in 2009. Even with last year’s increase in NOx emissions, the Port is only 8 percentage points away from meeting its 2023 target of a 59 percent reduction in NOx.
The Port set the same SOx reduction target for both years: 93 percent. The 2014 inventory shows the Port has now met and surpassed that goal. The rapid turnover of the truck fleet under the Clean Truck Program led to much of the early gains.
Additionally, DPM is used to measure the Port’s progress in lowering the health risk of harmful emissions to the region. With the goal of reducing the risk 85 percent by 2020, the Port is one percentage point shy of its target, based on having cut DPM emissions 84 percent.
The Port’s success also continues to be reflected in the dwindling share of emissions its activity contributes to the South Coast Air Basin. The region is home to more than 16.8 million people in urban portions of Los Angeles, San Bernardino and Riverside counties and all of Orange County.
Today, only 2.1 percent of all SOx emissions in the South Coast Air Basin are attributable to Port operations compared with 25 percent in 2005. DPM emissions from the Port account for 4.8 percent of the region’s total, less than half of what they measured in 2005. NOx emissions are 4.3 percent, down from 5 percent in 2005.
DPM is a toxic contaminant and known carcinogen, and NOx and SOx are key components of smog. The Port also tracks greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, down 15 percent since 2005, which contribute to global warming and are associated with climate change. The Port’s progress in curbing GHG emissions support the state’s goal of an 80 percent reduction based on 1990 levels by 2050.
The Port of Los Angeles is America’s premier port and has a strong commitment to developing innovative strategic and sustainable operations that benefit Southern California’s economy and quality of life. As North America’s leading seaport in terms by container volume and cargo value, the Port of Los Angeles facilitated $290 billion in trade during 2014. Port operations and commerce facilitate more than 148,000 jobs (about one in 12) in the City of Los Angeles and 531,000 jobs (or one in 16) in the five-county Southern California region. The San Pedro Bay Ports support more than 1 million California jobs and 3.1 million nationwide.