U.S. EPA Launches $3B Clean Ports Fund

Singapore freight forwarders – Star Concord

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has launched a much-anticipated funding round for zero-emission port infrastructure and equipment. With financing from the Inflation Reduction Act, the EPA is opening solicitations for grant money totaling $3 billion, primarily aimed at reducing emissions and diesel exhaust pollution. 

Community benefits are front and center in the program’s design. Applications for funding will be evaluated not just on the technical merits, but on “the extent and quality of community engagement.”

“Communities near our nation’s ports are disproportionately impacted by air pollution and other environmental hazards, and this funding will help reduce emissions while creating good-paying jobs as we transition to a clean energy future,” said White House Council on Environmental Quality Chair Brenda Mallory. 

$2.8 billion in funding will go towards zero-emissions rolling equipment, harbor craft, electric charging stations, hydrogen fueling infrastructure and similar investments. Another $150 million will be earmarked for planning, studies and community engagement.

The program is a massive expansion of EPA’s existing Ports Initiative and Diesel Emissions Reduction Act programs. These initiatives have invested about $290 million in projects that cut back diesel emissions, and the Clean Ports Program will increase that investment tenfold. Port authorities, air quality agencies, tribes, local governments and public-private partnerships can apply for the funding. 

“America’s seaports are charting a cleaner future with $50 billion worth of planned alternative energy projects that need funding,” exclaimed Cary Davis, American Association of Port Authorities CEO. “The industry is beyond thrilled to apply for federal investments.”

However, Davis sounded a cautionary note on the program’s buy-American requirements. Strictly enforcement the procurement rules will slow down progress because America’s own supply chain for electric port equipment is limited, he said. Instead, he called for the program to allow ports to buy electric equipment from America’s allies.  

Clean-air advocates also cheered the EPA’s announcement. 

“We applaud the U.S. EPA for announcing this momentous opportunity to fund zero-emission port equipment, infrastructure, and planning,” said Antonio Santos, the federal climate policy director for Pacific Environment. “It is imperative that we protect port workers and frontline communities from further exposure to harmful air pollution. The historic investments under the Clean Ports Program will save lives and help transition ports to a zero-emissions future.” 

Top image: Container ship at Jaxport (Jaxport / CC BY NC 2.0)

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