Heather Kerrigan is a GOVERNING contributor. She pens the monthly Public Workforce column and contributes to the print magazine.E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Two of California's major ports--Long Beach and Los Angeles--are set to embark on a two-year, $1.2 million pilot program to test hybrid yard tractors. The new cargo-movers will do the basic work of loading and unloading goods and are supposed to reduce smog-forming emissions by 93 percent, which is far beyond anything required by state and federal regulations. The equipment will use hybrid electric or hybrid hydraulic technology instead of the current all-diesel fuel.
The project comes on top of a pending $2 billion proposal to clean the air at the ports and in the surrounding communities. The program will require the ports to reduce their overall emissions by 50 percent over the next five years.
Port officials are looking at several technologies to ameliorate pollution from the broad spectrum of traffic that comes into and leaves the port on a daily basis, such as diesel trucks and locomotives. If the $2 billion scheme is approved this month as expected, it would be "one of the largest programs of this type in the world," says Art Wong, public information officer at the Port of Long Beach.
The ports decided to work together on pollution reduction in an effort to counter the natural tendency of shipping companies to dock at ports with the least strict regulations.
Officials at both ports have a powerful incentive to look at clean technologies. Both are located in areas with high pollution rates, and within the next two decades, trade is expected to double or triple at the ports, bringing with it more diesel ships, trucks and trains.