Port of Oakland Requires Tenant's Zero-Emission Cargo Handling Plans

zero emission cargo handling
Oakland is requiring tenants to develop a plan this year for converting to zero-emission cargo handling (Port of Oakland file photo)

Published Mar 13, 2023 7:49 PM by The Maritime Executive

To encourage the reduction of emissions for onshore operations and comply with increasing state regulations, the Port of Oakland, California approved an environmental ordinance requiring operators to develop zero-emission plans. The Oakland Board of Port Commissioners at their meeting on March 9 voted to approve the ordinary requiring tenants that operate cargo handling equipment to create a plan for converting to zero emissions. 

“Our goal is to grow the port with operations, equipment, and vehicles fueled by energy that does not emit harmful pollutants into the air,” said Port of Oakland Executive Director Danny Wan. “The port’s environmental ordinance goes above and beyond state regulations and supports our path to zero emissions.”

Port of Oakland tenants will have until December 31, 2023, to create a cargo-handling equipment conversion plan. No deadline was announced for when they would be required to complete the transition, but the commission said as a public agency and tidelands trustee, they felt they have responsibilities to address public and worker health and safety. 

“We recognize there are technical and financial challenges to make major changes in operations,” said Port of Oakland Maritime Director Bryan Brandes. “We will continue to partner with our maritime tenants to help them achieve success on getting to zero emissions.”

The ordinance will allow the port to work collaboratively with its business partners to support an efficient and timely transition to zero emissions. Port environmental staff will review the plans annually for accountability, transparency, and partnering in support of tenants as they implement their plans.

Since the first adoption of the Environmental Ordinance in 2015, federal, state, and local environmental liability laws and toxic clean-up standards have continued to evolve according to the commission. The updated ordinance they said reflects the adoption of new laws and regulations and new or updated plans adopted by the port board.

California requires its public entities to develop plans. The board previously approved the Port of Oakland Seaport Air Quality 2020 and Beyond Plan. They look to coordinate the tenants’ activities with the port’s master plan.

California has adopted increasingly stringent standards over the past few years for the maritime industry. They are beginning efforts that will phase in requiring nearly all ocean-going vessels to eliminate on-dock emissions. This expands existing ordinances requiring either the use of filtering technologies or shore power. Last year, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) also approved updates to its Commercial Harbor Craft Regulation designed to reduce diesel soot and nitrogen oxides emission from commercial harbor craft including tugboats and ferries. Nearly all commercial harbor crafts as well as the fishing industry will begin to face requirements to accelerate the move to Tier 2 and 3 engines for select categories while the new regulations expand the coverage, requiring zero-emission options where feasible, and cleaner combustion Tier 3 and 4 engines on all other vessels. In addition, they will require the use of diesel particulate filters.