Port of San Diego Adopts Maritime Clean Air Strategy

San Diego Bay
San Diego Bay
San Diego’s Board of Port Commissioners has approved a Maritime Clean Air Strategy policy document aimed at helping improve air quality in the San Diego Bay. Photo via Port of San Diego.

The Port of San Diego Board of Port Commissioners in mid-October approved a policy document to help port officials identify future projects and initiatives to improve health through cleaner air for those who live, work and play on and around San Diego Bay, while also supporting efficient and modern maritime operations.

Nearly all the goals and objectives in the Maritime Clean Air Strategy (MCAS) go beyond what is currently required by the State of California, according to the port.

As an update to the port’s 2007 Clean Air Program, the MCAS identifies a vision centered on health equity, with ambitious goals for 2030 that will contribute to improved air quality, according to the port. The MCAS establishes specific, near-term emissions reduction goals and objectives to be accomplished between 2021 and June 30, 2026. Collectively, in conjunction with the near-term goals and objectives, the MCAS identifies about 34 potential projects, partnerships, initiatives, and/or studies.

Highlights of the MCAS goals and/or objectives that go beyond State requirements include:

  • A goal of 100% of cargo trucks calling on Port of San Diego cargo maritime terminals being zero-emissions (ZE) vehicles by 2030, exceeding state requirements by five years, and in some cases, even more. (An Executive Order of the Governor identifies goals for ZE short-haul/drayage trucks by 2035, with full transition to ZE heavy duty long-haul trucks by 2045.)
  • An interim goal of 40 percent of the Port’s annual cargo truck trips being performed by zero emissions trucks by June 30, 2026.
  • A goal of 100% of cargo handling equipment being zero emissions by 2030. (An Executive Order of the Governor calls for full transition of cargo handling equipment to zero emissions by 2035, where feasible.)
  • Facilitate implementation of the first all-electric tugboat in the United States by June 30, 2026. The electric tug will replace one that consumes more than 30,000 gallons of diesel per year. The eTug will help reduce diesel particulate matter (DPM) emissions by transitioning to zero emissions or near-zero emission technologies and/or other lower-emitting engines or alternative fuels. (State does not currently have any requirements for electric tugboats.)

Other notable clean air projects in the works that will aid in the achievement of the MCAS goals include:

  • Doubling shore power for cruise ships by 2023.
  • Adding shore power or an alternative technology to reduce ocean-going emissions at berth at the National City Marine Terminal by 2025, in alignment with state requirements.
  • Purchasing electric cranes to replace the obsolete diesel mobile harbor crane at the Tenth Avenue Marine Terminal.
  • Purchasing electric equipment like UTRs (utility tractor rigs), drayage short-haul trucks, and General Services fleet trucks.
  • Port fleet electrification.
  • “Our portside community neighbors as well as our working waterfront and our visitors deserve to breathe clean air. The Maritime Clean Air Strategy clearly lays out what our goals, aspirations, and expectations are for ourselves and for the people who do and want to do business with the Port of San Diego,” port board Chairman Michael Zucchet said.

The port has said that it intends to support timely and cost-effective implementation of the various projects and initiatives identified in the MCAS. Officials have said that they intend to work with neighboring jurisdictions, partners and tenants to identify funding and to collaborate on seeking state and federal grants for port projects.

Under the MCAS, port staff are required regularly report back to the port board regarding the environmental initiatives, including comprehensive updates every two years.

More information is available at https://www.portofsandiego.org/mcas.