California’s public ports are committed to maintaining environmentally sound maritime practices and developing environmentally friendly port operations beyond regulatory requirements. The ports take pride in their role as environmental stewards and the tremendous environmental improvements the freight industry has achieved over the last decade.

Green Port Policies

Improving air quality, protecting water quality and enhancing wildlife protection are among California’s highest priorities, and our public ports have been creating ambitious, innovative and cutting-edge programs which propelled California into the world-leading role of environmental stewards.

California ports employ environmental planning departments to ensure compliance with state, regional, and local regulations. In many cases, the ports exceed state and federal requirements.  They are proud of their efforts to protect our environment, which have had real, visible and lasting benefits. The San Pedro Bay is healthier today than it was during the 1970s, due in part to award-winning storm water pollution prevention programs established by our ports. Today, the Port of Los Angeles boasts the best water quality of any industrialized port in the world and the number of birds in the San Pedro harbor has more than doubled since the 1970s.

  • The Port of Long Beach has adopted an aggressive and comprehensive Green Port Policy dedicated to reducing the harmful environmental effects of port-related operations.  This program earned the Port of Long Beach recognition as the “Best Green Seaport” in the world at the 28th annual Asian Freight & Supply Chain Awards in June 2014;
  • The Port of Hueneme dynamically uses energy efficient utilities and alternative fuels including replacing conventional diesel with low emission propane-fueled trucks, electrifying cargo handling equipment to reduce on-dock emissions, and developing a Non-compliant Truck Reporting System to document and report all trucks not in compliance with the California Air Resources Board drayage truck regulation;
  • The Port of Stockton is devoted to improving the region’s quality of life by balancing environmental enhancement with the economic benefits of Port activity.  This commitment is reflected in the Port’s Delta Environmental Enhancement Program which aims to enhance air quality, water quality, and wildlife habitats in the Delta and surrounding communities.

Air Emissions

In partnership with the ARB, local air quality management districts, federal agencies, local jurisdictions, regional communities, and industry partners, ports have been particularly focused on air quality improvement efforts over the last decade – a focus that has led to significant emissions reductions and lasting transformations in our goods movement system.

Our large ports report emissions reductions on the order of:

  • 80% in particulate matter reductions;
  • 90% in SOx reductions;
  • 50% in NOx reductions; and significant GHG reductions;

These remarkable achievements are the result of concerted, comprehensive, and on-going air quality improvement efforts at our ports.

  • Jointly, the Ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles adopted their Clean Air Action Plan which outlines a comprehensive approach to mitigating the air quality impacts of goods movement activities;
  • The Port of Long Beach’s Green Flag Program is a voluntary vessel speed reduction program that rewards vessel operators for slowing down to 12 knots or less when they are up to 40 nautical miles from the harbor entrance. Because ships emit less when they travel more slowly, the program has been highly successful in reducing smog-forming emissions and diesel particulates;
  • The Port of Los Angeles is implementing the Marina Engine Exchange Program which replaces old, highly polluting outboard motors with California Air Resources Board certified 3-Star rated or all-electric motors; the Port sponsors 75% of the total cost of the motor replacement including the costs of the new motor, labor for the replacement, and recycling of the old motor;
  • The Port of Oakland’s Clean Air Program, includes a truck re-powering component to provide cash incentives to truckers for replacing dirty engines with newer, cleaner engines;
  • In addition to the large container ports of Long Beach, Los Angles, and Oakland, the Ports of Hueneme, San Diego, and San Francisco have implemented shore-side power operations, allowing vessels to “plug-in” to the electricity grid instead of burning fuel while at dock;
  • The Port of Stockton aids the San Joaquin Valley Air Quality Management District in enforcing regulations that prohibit excessive emissions from vessels that call at the Port by training port staff to identify violators. Every six months the Port sends employees to Visible Emissions training to be re-certified to read air emissions in order to assist with vessel compliance and reduce air quality impacts.

Water Quality

Water and sediment quality has been steadily improving as environmental policies have been implemented over the years; policies such as increased monitoring, assertive regulation by state and federal agencies, improved pollution source control, and dredging which eradicates amassed containments in harbor sediments are among the tools used by California ports to improve water quality.

  • The Port of Oakland has prepared the Sewer System Management Plan with a goal to effectively manage, operate, and maintain the sanitary sewer collection system owned by the port to help reduce and prevent sanitary sewer overflows and to mitigate the impact of those that do occur;
  • The Port of Stockton is developing and implementing an Environmental Initiatives Program that identifies opportunities for the port to enhance conditions in the Delta;
  • The ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach have expanded their water quality programs with the development of a coordinated Water Resources Action Plan (WRAP), a comprehensive effort to target remaining water and sediment pollution sources in the San Pedro Bay which has greatly improved water and sediment quality in San Pedro Bay over the last 40 years by working closely with federal and state officials and other stakeholders to develop measures that will further minimize landside and waterside sources of pollutants;
  • The Humboldt Bay Harbor District was the first port to implement a ballast water exchange program on the west coast of North America, to guard against the introduction of invasive species through ship ballast water.

Land and Resource Management

As stewards of the natural resources throughout California, ports strive to ensure wildlife has the opportunity to flourish by maintaining and improving natural habitats to the furthest extent possible; California ports have implemented programs to provide wildlife with such opportunities by working with state and federal agencies such as the State Lands Commission, Department of Fish and Wildlife and the United States Environmental Protection Agency.

  • The Port of San Diego, in conjunction with the US Navy, prepared a Natural Resource Management Plan for San Diego Bay to assist in restoration, conservation and management planning; and created the Bay-Wide Water Quality Monitoring Program which provides valuable water quality data for the San Diego Bay;
  • Periodically, the Port of Los Angeles has teamed together with the Port of Long Beach to undertake comprehensive biological surveys of the Los Angeles-Long Beach Harbor to assist with their efforts of sustaining their habitats. Surveys evaluate the area’s physical and ecological characteristics, including surveys of kelp, eelgrass, plankton, fish, benthic animals, and marine birds and mammals. These studies also address seasonal variations and the presence of invasive species, if any, and compare the ecological characteristics of various types of habitats found in different areas of the Los Angeles-Long Beach Harbor;
  • In an effort to enhance marine resources, the Port of Los Angeles hopes to build a new artificial reef outside its breakwater, using clean concrete construction and demolition materials. The reef was designed in collaboration with the California Department of Fish and Game, the National Marine Fisheries Service, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the Port of Long Beach, the Montrose Settlements Restoration Program, and local commercial sport fishing interests. The proposed reef would create new bottom topography to provide habitat for a multitude of reef-dwelling kelp, reef fish and other inhabitants. The reef is also designed to complement existing marine habitat and other artificial reefs previously established in Los Angeles Harbor.

Although much remains to be done, our ports have adopted ambitious plans and are implementing aggressive programs to protect and enhance our environment. California’s public ports are striving daily to improve air quality, to facilitate water quality protection, and to expand wildlife and habitat conservation.

Please visit individual port websites to read more about each port’s environmental programs.