National City Marine Terminal
The National City Marine Terminal, part of the lands managed by the Port. Courtesy Port of San Diego

The Port of San Diego board has approved a policy intended to help the agency identify projects and initiatives to improve health through cleaner air around San Diego Bay.

The intent is for the Maritime Clean Air Strategy to also support maritime operations. Port commissioners tout the “Health Equity for All” approach as more ambitious than any other clean air policy of its kind in the state.

“Our portside community neighbors as well as our working waterfront and our visitors deserve to breathe clean air,” said Michael Zucchet, the board’s chair. “The Maritime Clean Air Strategy clearly lays out what our goals, aspirations and expectations are for ourselves and for the people who do and want to do business with the Port of San Diego.”

The port began developing the strategy goals and objectives in March 2020 with residents, industry, businesses, public agencies and non-government organizations.

Zucchet said the policy puts the Port and tenants in a position to attract state grants and investments for items such as clean air equipment and electrified heavy-duty trucks.

He added that the strategy “is our roadmap” to maintaining leadership in the clean-air arena.

As an update to the port’s 2007 Clean Air Program, the new policy centers on health equity, with goals for 2030 intended to contribute to improved air quality.

In support of those goals, Port officials established more specific, near-term emissions reduction goals and objectives to be accomplished by June 30, 2026, including 34 potential projects, partnerships, initiatives and/or studies.

Highlights of the policy that go beyond state requirements include:

  • A goal of 100% of cargo trucks at port cargo maritime terminals being zero-emission vehicles by 2030, along with all cargo handling equipment;
  • An interim goal of 40% of the port’s annual cargo truck trips being performed by zero-emission trucks by June 30, 2026, along with turning to the use of the first all-electric tugboat in the country;
  • Support for the San Diego Air Pollution Control District’s purchase and installation of new portable air filtration devices at participating portside community residences.

Other notable clean air projects in the works include doubling shore power for cruise ships by 2023, and adding shore power or an alternative technology to reduce ocean-going emissions.

According to port documents, in addition to cleaner air and improved health, other benefits of the strategy include job creation, ambient noise reduction, urban greening, ecosystem enhancement, and improved access to San Diego Bay.

Funding could come from multiple sources, including the port. The port intends to work with neighboring jurisdictions, partners and tenants to identify funding and to collaborate on seeking state and federal grants. The board expects regular updates, including comprehensive updates every two years.

– City News Service