The Port of Seattle received a Clean Air Excellence award on Wednesday from the Environmental Protection Agency for its multi-layered program to improve air quality.
The port's award was in the "Regulations/Policy Innovations" category for its work in successfully reducing maritime-related emissions through programs that exceed legal requirements.
The At-Berth Clean (ABC) Fuels initiative, for example, offers incentives to cargo and cruise vessels that use low-sulfur fuel to power auxiliary engines at berth. On Monday, the port authority announced it will continue to offer the incentives.
The port authority said it has paid out more than $3 million to qualifying ship owners and removed more than 835 tons of pollutants from the Puget Sound area since the ABC Program began in 2009. The program encourages vessel operators to go beyond international Emission Control Area requirements. This year, the ABC Fuels Program will change to a "per metric ton" incentive for vessels that achieve early compliance with 2015 ECA requirements to burn fuel with 0.1 percent or less sulfur content while at berth. The incentive payout depends on the amount of fuel burned and could be as much as $7,400 per qualifying vessel call.
Other emission-reduction efforts include the Clean Truck program, which offers voluntary incentives to drayage drivers to trade in older, polluting trucks for ones with clean diesel engines; the Green Gateway Partner Awards that recognizes environmental accomplishments of container and cruise lines; and promoting shore power use for cruise vessels while moored at port terminals.
The EPA noted that the Port of Seattle implemented the programs with the collaboration of the maritime industry, regulatory agencies and local governments.
Using the 2005 Puget Sound Maritime Air Emissions Inventory as a baseline, the Port of Seattle partnered with the Port of Tacoma, Port Metro Vancouver and several regulatory agencies to develop the Northwest Ports Clean Air Strategy in 2007.
The strategy's objective is to reduce diesel and greenhouse gas emissions without imposing regulatory burdens on business. The Port of Seattle applied a science-based approach to develop programs focused on several maritime sectors, according to the EPA. Using an updated 2011 emission inventory, the Port of Seattle estimates that overall diesel particulate matter emissions were reduced by 27 percent between 2005 and 2011, including reductions of 34 percent from ocean-going vessels at berth, 53 percent from trucks and 39 percent from cargo-handling equipment.
In addition, greenhouse gases from port activities have gone down by 5 percent over the same time period. With an updated Northwest Ports Clean Air Strategy in 2013, the port has set new goals of reducing diesel particulate matter emissions per ton of cargo by 75 percent of 2005 levels by 2015 and 80 percent by 2020. In addition, the port has set goals of reducing greenhouse gas emissions per ton of cargo by 10 percent from 2005 levels by 2015 and 15 percent by 2020.
The port authority is developing and implementing new programs to achieve those goals.
Eight local governments or community organizations also received rewards from the EPA.