Photo of ship docked at a port.Diesel engines power almost all port activities, from the shipping vessels to cargo-handling equipment to the trains and trucks that move goods in and out of marine terminals. Ports therefore become concentrated sources of diesel emissions. With growth in cruise ship calls, container freight volumes, and land-side businesses such as fish processing, the need to work with port authorities and terminal operators to reduce diesel emissions has never been stronger.

Reducing Diesel Emissions from Port Operations

Through its Ports Initiative, EPA explores effectively partnering with port stakeholders to identify opportunities and find solutions that create more sustainable ports systems by

  • encouraging environmental progress at ports and reducing climate risk;
  • supporting operational and technological improvements to increase efficiency;
  • improving community health and air quality; and
  • encouraging sustainable economic development that supports our economy and jobs.

Regional collaborations between industry and government agencies to reduce emissions from marine vessels and port operations include:

  • Truck Count and Assessment for Providence, RI Port Area
    As part of the port community collaboration element of EPA's national Ports Initiative, EPA Region 1 has been working with state and local agencies, port businesses, and community groups in Providence, RI, collectively known as the Providence Port-Community Working Group ("Working Group") to identify ways to reduce the environmental impacts of the working port on employees and neighbors, while supporting vital maritime commerce.  A near-term goal of this work has been to assess the degree to which trucks serving the Providence port area, among other sources, are affecting air quality and other conditions at the port and in nearby neighborhoods.  In aid of this goal, Region 1 in March 2020 competitively awarded a small business contract in two phases to DAWSON Solutions and DAWSON HDR Services, using Diesel Emissions Reduction Act funds, to conduct a Truck Count and Assessment for the Providence port area.

    Line of trucks

    The purpose of Phase I was to develop a representative inventory of medium and heavy-duty freight trucks (Class 5-8) and their movements while serving businesses and other facilities in the Providence, Rhode Island industrial port area.  Upon successful completion of Phase I, EPA exercised the option to conduct Phase II, whose purpose was to conduct interviews of port businesses, fleets, and drivers to identify potential strategies to reduce air emissions from heavy duty trucks and their activity. Due to the COVID-19 emergency, start of work was delayed until June, and completed in December 2020. An informal group of state and local agencies and businesses helped Region I steer the project, and it is expected that the results will be of enduring value to the RI Division of Statewide Planning. Community representatives participating in the Working Group were asked for input in establishing observation points, and their past comments on truck behavior were incorporated.

    The results of Phases I and II were presented by the consultants to the Working Group in September and December. Those presentations and the final reports for both phases are posted below. It is anticipated that federal, city and state agencies participating in the Working Group will develop plans to use the results in ongoing freight planning and diesel emissions reduction programs to reduce emissions and improve trucking efficiency at and around the Port of Providence.
  • The Port Authority of New York/New Jersey and its partners developed a Clean Air Strategy for the Port of NY and NJ which lays out actions that the Port and industry stakeholders can take to reduce diesel and greenhouse (GHG) emissions in advance of regulations. PANYNJ is also conducting a dray truck replacement project.

  • At the New York Container Terminal, installing regenerating diesel particulate filters on cargo handling equipment and piloting idle reduction technology on locomotives.

  • At Boston’s MassPort Conley Container Terminal, retrofitting yard and cargo-handling equipment, using ultra-low sulfur diesel (ULSD), systematically acquiring new equipment with maximum-efficiency engines, providing shore power for fishing vessels, and replacing dray trucks.
  • NEDC Marine Repower Guide

New NEDC Marine Repower Guide released.
The Northeast Diesel Collaborative is providing this Marine Repower Guide (beta version) to assist marine vessel operators and potential grantees in making the decision to repower commercial marine Category 1 or 2 vessels. The document outlines information needed about the vessel's operations, federal requirements, and how to calculate emission reductions and cost-effectiveness. The document also provides case studies and resources to help guide you through your decision to repower.

» Vew the NEDC Marine Repower Guide here

NEDC Ports and Goods Movement Workgroup

The NEDC Ports and Goods Movement Workgroup is a diverse public/private collaborative that meets bimonthly via conference call to learn about, discuss and promote effective and efficient strategies for reducing emissions and increasing sustainability for ports in the Northeast, Puerto Rico and US Virgin Islands.

To get involved with the Ports Workgroup, please contact Abby Swaine [swaine.abby@epa.gov] or Reema Loutan [loutan.reema@epa.gov].

» Learn more about the NEDC Ports Workgroup

Federal Regulations

Photo from http://www.iwr.usace.army.mil/ndc/veslchar/veslchar.htmEmission Control Area
On March 26, 2010, the International Maritime Organization (IMO) amended the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL) designating specific portions of U.S., Canadian and French waters as an Emission Control Area (ECA). The proposal for ECA designation was introduced by the U.S. and Canada, reflecting common interests, shared geography and interrelated economies. In July 2009, France joined as a co-proposer on behalf of its island territories of Saint-Pierre and Miquelon, which form an archipelago off the coast of Newfoundland. Allowing for the lead time associated with the IMO process, the North American ECA will become enforceable in August 2012. For more info on the North American ECA, please click here.

On July 15, 2011, the IMO officially designated waters around Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands as an area in which stringent international emission standards will apply to ships. For this area, the effective date of the first-phase fuel sulfur standard is 2014, and the second phase begins in 2015. Stringent NOx engine standards begin in 2016. For more information on the U.S. Caribbean ECA, please click here.

EPA Ocean-Going Vessel Notice of Proposed Rulemaking
EPA Finalizes More Stringent Standards for Control of Emissions from New Marine Compression-Ignition Engines at or Above 30 Liters per Cylinder: The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is adopting more stringent exhaust emission standards for large marine diesel engines as part of a coordinated strategy to address emissions from all ships that affect U.S. air quality. EPA's coordinated strategy includes Clean Air Act standards, as well as implementation of the international standards for marine engines and their fuels contained in Annex VI to the International Convention on the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (a treaty called MARPOL). The strategy also includes designation of U.S. coasts as an Emission Control Area (ECA) through an amendment to MARPOL Annex VI. By 2030, this coordinated strategy is expected to reduce annual emissions of NOx in the United States by about 1.2 million tons and PM emissions by about 143,000 tons. For more information on the final rule, click here.

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