Tuesday, January 25, 2011

California Air Regulators Claim Success in Reducing Freight Emissions

The California Air Resources Board is claiming success in a wide range of pollution reduction programs that have targeted goods movement statewide and, according to the agency, dramatically cut diesel emissions along major trade corridors and near ports.

CARB Executive Director James Goldstene cited success in CARB programs addressing trucks, rail and ships, all under the umbrella of the state's Goods Movement Emission Reduction Program. The overall program is supported by $1 billion in voter-approved Proposition 1B bonds, of which $450 million has already been allocated.

More than 5300 diesel trucks traveling the state’s busiest trade routes are being cleaned up, said Goldstene. In addition, 19 locomotives operating in the Central Valley and Southern California are being upgraded, and clean electrical power will be available this spring for ships docking at the Port of Oakland thanks to $250 million as part of implementation of CARB’s goods movement program.

"We estimate that these projects will eliminate more than 3 million pounds of diesel soot plus 60 million pounds of smog-forming pollutants from our environment over the next few years," said Goldstene.

Goldstene also touted the success of the GMER program to leverage substantial matching funds from private, local and federal sources - more than one match dollar for every program dollar invested.

"This leveraging has resulted in an additional $300 million above and beyond the Prop 1B bond funds to aid in overseeing pollution reduction projects through to their completion within the next few years," said Goldstene.

To update the 5300 trucks -- including those that service the state's three major ports of Long Beach, Los Angeles and Oakland--older trucks have been replaced with new diesel models or those powered by natural gas meeting cleaner 2007 or later emission standards.

In the four trade corridors targeted by the GMER program (Bay Area, Central Valley, Los Angeles/Inland Empire, San Diego/Border), most equipment owners opted to replace their trucks. However, in the Bay Area, a majority of the port drayage truck owners chose to retrofit their vehicles with diesel soot filters that trap at least 85 percent of particulate emissions.

In a shift from many previous programs, one-third of the trucks that received program funding are owned by independent owner-operators, and half of the funded vehicles are in fleets of 20 or fewer trucks, considered in California to be a small or medium-sized fleet.

Additional cleanup activities focusing on installing clean electric power for ships at dock will get underway as air districts start soliciting for over $80 million in projects in early 2011. CARB allocated an additional $112 million for more truck cleanup efforts, with smaller grants to be available to clean up locomotives and harbor craft such as tug boats.