By Mark Edward Nero
The Port of Los Angeles has largely continued to preserve clean air gains that have reduced key pollutants, lowered health risk in surrounding communities and improved the quality of life in the greater Los Angeles area, according to the latest release of an annual report.
The detailed inventory’s latest findings, which were publicly revealed Aug. 18, are based on data collected during calendar year 2015 and reviewed by regional, state and federal air regulatory agencies.
The results show the port continues to exceed its 2023 targets for reducing diesel particulate matter and sulfur oxides (77 percent and 93 percent, respectively) and is within striking distance of its 2023 target of reducing NOx emissions 59 percent.
The port also held the line on reducing the health risk of port-related emissions by lowering them 85 percent.
The baseline for the levels is 2005, the year before the port adopted a massive environmental effort known as the San Pedro Bay Clean Air Action Plan.
Overall, diesel particulate matter (DPM) emissions remain down 85 percent from all sources related to port operations, replicating the port’s record set in 2014, according to the report. Likewise, sulfur oxides (SOx) emissions are down 97 percent, nearing total elimination. Nitrogen oxides (NOx) emissions are down 51 percent, just one percent shy of the 52 percent reduction rate in 2014.
The emissions inventory also shows that greenhouse gas emissions were 10 percent below the 2005 baseline, but the 2015 GHG emissions were higher than port emissions in 2014, when they were 16 percent below the 2005 baseline. The increased 2015 GHG emissions are mostly attributed by the port to congestion issues experienced in the first part of 2015. With congestion now behind it, the port says it anticipates a return to larger GHG emissions reductions for 2016, as it continues its efforts to achieve a goal of reducing GHGs 80 percent by 2050, based on 1990 levels.
Cargo handling equipment upgrades played a key role in offsetting congestion-related emissions in 2015, as the upgrades helped diesel particulates remain stable compared to 2014 with only a small increase in NOx emissions.
Replacing and retrofitting off-road terminal equipment has been a mainstay of the Clean Air Action Plan since its inception, and the use of the cleanest available engines jumped to 45 percent of all cargo handling equipment, up from 30 percent in 2014.
The POLA’s full 2015 air emission inventory can be seen at https://www.portoflosangeles.org/pdf/2015_Air_Emissions_Inventory.pdf.