An official website of the United States government.

We've made some changes to If the information you are looking for is not here, you may be able to find it on the EPA Web Archive or the January 19, 2017 Web Snapshot.

Ports Initiative

Port Authority Best Practices

container ships at the portPort authorities are key as sponsors of federal navigation projects that benefit all maritime interests.One of the major issues port authorities are facing today is promoting economic development while protecting environmental quality. Public ports play an integral role in working with private industry to develop and finance marine terminals and facilities, as well as to manage the port. Whether an "operating port" or a "landlord port," public port authorities are key as sponsors of federal navigation projects that benefit all maritime interests.  

Learn about near-port community considerations

Orient your port to consider unique environmental justice situations of near-port communities with the goal of working to be a good neighbor for building social equity.  Work collaboratively with near-port communities to identify needs and issues related to port activities.

Utilize the Environmental Justice (EJ) Primer for Ports:  The Good Neighbor Guide to Building Partnerships and Social Equity with Communities.

Establish anti-idling policies

By establishing an anti-idling policy for trucks, locomotives and cargo handling equipment, diesel emissions can be effectively reduced. Turning off engines when not in use is the smartest and easiest way to reduce air pollution and save money. Not only does unnecessary idling waste fuel, but it causes wear and tear on the engine which requires more maintenance. EPA's SmartWay program maintains a list of verified idling reduction technologies.

Expand off-peak operations hours to avoid congestion

By extending terminal gate hours beyond the regular schedule or offering incentives for off-peak operations, truck queuing, idling, and traffic congestion are shortened. Not only does this increase flow and efficiency, but reduces the impacts of diesel exhaust during ozone hours.

Retrofit with verified technologies, use cleaner fuels and operate more efficiently

Install or require installation of emission reduction devices, replace engines or equipment, use cleaner fuels, and implement operational efficiencies which have been tested and verified. These technologies are cost-effective and yield substantial emission reductions. See EPA’s Clean Diesel Technology pages to learn more about available options. Visit EPA’s Clean Diesel National Grants  for information on grants.

Develop an Environmental Management System

Ports across the globe are adopting Environmental Management Systems (EMS) as a way to plan for continuous improvement in environmental performance. For more information, see An Environmental Management System (EMS) Primer for Ports: Advancing Port Sustainability (PDF) .

Develop an emissions inventory

An emissions inventory is necessary for port authorities to understand and quantify the air quality impacts of current port operations. Ports are major contributors of NOx, PM, SOx, and air toxics. Emissions inventories help to assess the impacts of port expansion or increased activity and provide a baseline for developing emission mitigation strategies and track performance over time.

Develop educational programs on air pollution and emissions reductions for terminal operators and fleet owners

One barrier to implementing cost-effective emissions reduction strategies is lack of knowledge on the part of terminal operators and fleet owners about various options. Guidance and education on air quality, air pollutants, technologies and ways to implement emissions reduction strategies not only increase awareness but also increase the opportunities to reduce emissions.

Substitute electric power for diesel power

Using electric shoreside power at berth or "cold ironing," rather than running auxiliary diesel engines is effective for ports and vessels that have long hoteling times, multiple annual vessel calls, and high auxiliary power needs, such as cruise ships.

See more information in case studies for the Port of Los Angeles on Shoreside Power, and the Electric Crane Project.

Substitute rail or barge for trucking

Using rail or barge instead trucking increases the volume flow and efficiency of cargo in and out of the port. Rail and barge offer less congestion than trucks and reduces diesel exhaust from unnecessary idling.

Contact government agencies and port authorities for additional funding opportunities

Go to the Ports Initiative funding opportunies page for information on numerous federal, state, local and port authority funding opportunities in the Unitied States.