The port of Long Beach brings a number of things to the city: commerce, big boats and smog.
Hundreds of stakeholders attended the State of the Port address Jan. 22, where Executive Director Mario Cordero announced plans to eliminate cargo and vehicle emissions by 2030.
“I see not only the Green Port of the Future, but a port gateway driven to maximize operation efficiencies,” Cordero announced to a crowd of almost 600 people in the Long Beach Convention Center.
The port has utilized the Clean Air Action Plan since 2005 to reduce pollution from every source such as cargo handling equipment, trucks, cranes and other vehicles. The port, according to Cordero, recently got an updated action plan to eliminate all emissions from terminal cargo-handling equipment by 2030, and all emissions from vessels at berth by 2035.
This is expected to reduce greenhouse gases by 40 percent by 2030, and 80 percent by 2050, in order to cut emissions and transform the entire truck fleet, according to Cordero. However, he acknowledges that many people have their doubts about this project.
“It sounds a little more ambitious than I would think is likely,” said David Pepper, geography and geology lecturer at Cal State Long Beach. “It’s possible, but it’s certainly a very ambitious goal, and one that I think would be very difficult to achieve.”
Last year, port commissioners reported that port-related diesel emissions had been reduced by 88 percent in 2017. Within the next two years, all terminals in the port must utilize reservation systems.
“We are the Green Port,” Cordero said. “Zero emissions remains our ultimate goal.”
The update to the CAAP approval came last fall from the Boards of Harbor Commissioners for the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles. The goal is that improving reservation systems will help reduce cargo and vehicle emissions while improving the flow of cargo.
“It’s certainly a high-volume port, and it is a place that makes connections with other countries, so I think there’s a lot of value in leading by example,” Pepper said. “I think that even puts more emphasis on what we can do on a local, state level to show and demonstrate to the rest of the country and the world that we’re committed to being environmentally responsible.”
Cordero mentioned that Tesla, an American company that manufactures electric automobiles, has priced its trucks under $200,000 and that electric semis are expected to travel 500 miles between charges.
“The future is here, whether it’s Tesla or Toyota with its hydrogen fuel-cell trucks, zero-emission semi-trucks are coming,” Cordero said. “I want us to be both the environmental and the operational leader for the world’s seaports. We’ve set the bar high to be the world’s greenest port.”
Students living in the area of Long Beach expressed their concerns over the action plan.
“I live in downtown Long Beach, and the pollution out here is just terrible, not to mention it smells most of the time,” said Arlene Rosete, senior sociology major. “[Harbor commissioners] should’ve reduced more than just 88 percent of emissions by now, something significant needs to be done this year.”
Along with criticism of smog and urban living, students also expressed uncertainty.
“I have my doubts about the ‘updated’ [action plan],” said Nicholas Mucerino, senior political science major. “Cordero seems optimistic, but he doesn’t have a plan for the now, meaning we’re going to have to wait a long time before we seen any of these changes he’s persistent about.”
Another goal Cordero hopes to achieve is to move goods in and out of the harbor faster than any other port. He hopes that it will be what he labeled “the Amazon of ports.”
Cordero expressed optimism and said commissioners are creating the port of dreams, one that is predictable, reliable, efficient and fast.
“We must reimagine, re-design and build not only the Green Port of the future, but a port that is second to none operationally,” said Cordero.