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Best Practices for Port Operations

The Good Neighbor Guide to Building Partnerships and Social Equity with Communities
Learn how this tool and other capacity building tools are being used on pilot projects.

Ports and Marine Overview

Ports are critical for commerce, a keystone for economic growth, and play a significant role in the goods movement supply chain. As ports expand and size of ships and facilities grow, ports can be a source of pollution.  Many ports and surrounding areas have legacy fleets that utilize older high air emission producing engines that result in many ports and surrounding areas having poor air quality. Ocean going vessels, harbor craft, cargo handing equipment, drayage trucks, and locomotives are common contributors of diesel pollution at ports. Millions of people who live near ports are disproportionately impacted and a large number of these people are from low-income households, environmental justice communities, and from sensitive populations.  Container ship at portReducing exposure to diesel exhaust in and around ports is important for public health and the environment.

While EPA nonroad and on-road mobile source regulations apply to new engines, older diesel engines can remain in operation for 30 years or more. Reducing exposure to diesel exhaust in and around ports is important for public health and the environment.

EPA has a national ports initiative that focuses on the following.

  • Funding - Helping Ports Capitalize on Funding for Clean Technologies - Diesel Emissions Reduction Act (DERA)
  • Guidance – Providing Tools to Help Identify Smart Infrastructure Investments
  • Collaboration – Promoting Port-Community Collaboration for Effective Planning
  • Coordination – Increasing Efficiency in Federal Government and Port Operations
  • Communications – Creating a Knowledge Clearinghouse

EPA also provides information through its Clean Diesel Program on diesel emissions, emission reduction technologies and regulations.

Port authorities as well as owner and/or operators of fleets, terminals, drayage trucks, and locomotives all have a role in reducing diesel emissions at the ports where they work and the nearby communities.  Near-port communities have a role to play as well in capacity building through learning about ports and developing a community actions that lead to improved conditions.