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San Diego
Saturday, May 25, 2024

Port Mulls Zero Emission Plan

The Port of San Diego may mandate that by 2030, trucks hauling freight to and from the 10th Avenue Marine Terminal and National City Marine Terminal be Zero Emission Vehicles.

The deadline is sooner than that set by the state of California.

Emissions from cargo handling equipment, including forklifts, must also be cut under a plan to be considered by port commissioners in October.

The plan is called the Maritime Clean Air Strategy, or MCAS. The strategy also limits emissions from shipyards, including those from portable air compressors and other diesel power equipment.

The port district is also looking at itself, setting a goal to change its own fleet of vehicles to zero emission vehicles beginning in 2022. The port plans to put an all-electric tugboat into service; the addition is expected to be the first in the nation.

By late 2022, port commissioners may call for a plan for four public-facing electric charging locations capable of serving medium duty and heavy duty electric vehicles.

Timeline Concerns

Several people commenting on the draft plan said the timeline for implementing the plan is too aggressive.

The San Diego Port Tenants Association spoke of an “existential threat” to business.

“… [R]equiring all cargo trucks that pick up from the terminal to be electric 15 years ahead of state goals will demolish the commercial viability of the port and institute a competitive advantage for every other west coast port that San Diego is competing against,” read a letter signed by John Laun of the San Diego Yacht Club, chairman of the Port Tenants Association, as well as Sharon Cloward, the association’s president.

In an interview, Cloward said that technology specified by the port must be technically available, commercially feasible and economically viable. For the plan to work, for example, business must have the ability to buy equipment off the shelf and to take it to a neighborhood mechanic for repairs.

“If ZE emissions are imposed early at the Port, this in turn will cause substantial reductions in trucking power available to the San Diego region. If there are no trucks willing and able to enter the Port of San Diego to bring cargo in and out, tenants will have no choice but to cease their cargo operations. Subsequently, there would [be] no purpose for maritime cargo vessels to call at the Port of San Diego,” said a letter from Dole Fresh Fruit North America of Charlotte, North Carolina. Dole is a major tenant at the port. The letter was signed by Nelson Montoya, president of Dole Fresh Fruit North America, and Sarah Marsh, terminal manager.

Need for Fuel, Technology

“All studies have concluded that there’s a lack of alternative fuel and available technology specified in the MCAS,” wrote Dennis DuBard, chairman of the San Diego Working Waterfront Group. “Of those that are available, they are unreliable and costly. These pose logistical and financial challenges of doing business at the Port and does everything to discourage commerce.”

The proposal to offer government grants to business to offset costs of new transportation technology “is not a viable or feasible strategy,” the letter continued.

DuBard said that the plan contradicts basic principles of the Port Act, in that it does not promote commerce, navigation, fisheries and recreation.

The International Longshore and Warehouse Union urged that new technology not displace workers. Their detailed letter to the port was signed by Raymond Leyba, president of ILWU Local 29 as well as Daniel G. Miranda, president of ILWU Local 94.

The port issued its plan with a four-word vision statement: Health equity for all. The plan aims to address significant air pollution in the neighborhoods near port facilities.

“As a 3rd generation resident of Logan [Heights] I have seen all too well how dangerous our air is to the community, but with the port’s help we can continue to fight for the wellbeing of our future generations,” wrote Maritza Contreras, one of the people who commented on the port’s draft report.

Adding to the pollution from commercial activity is that from U.S. Navy traffic and facilities.

Cloward added that traffic on Interstate 5 and the San Diego-Coronado Bridge also affect air quality.

Port of San Diego


CEO: Joe Stuyvesant


BUSINESS: Administering 34 miles of San Diego Bay waterfront

ECONOMIC IMPACT: $9.4 billion in 2017



NOTABLE: The port district takes in the cities of Chula Vista, Coronado, Imperial Beach, National City and San Diego

CONTACT: (619) 686-6200


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