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Port of Oakland Eyes $2.25B to Move Freight Soot-Free

May 21, 2021

A coalition including the Port of Oakland wants California to spend $2.25 billion on emissions-free freight hauling.

Supply chain and environmental groups sent their request to Sacramento this month, seeking surplus state revenue to finance:

Zero-emission trucks and cargo handling equipment,

Infrastructure such as electric charging stations, and

Training to operate and maintain the equipment.

“The need for state investment to accelerate zero-emission vehicle adoption has never been more urgent, nor has the state ever had the means, as it does today, to enact change,” said the letter from 37 organizations including Oakland and five other California ports. “The state surplus presents a once in a lifetime opportunity to lay the strong foundation for an accelerated and equitable transition to a zero-emission freight transportation system.”

The letter to Gov. Gavin Newsom and legislative leaders follows projections of a $75.5 billion 2022 state surplus. It aligns with commitments from ports in Oakland, Los Angeles and Long Beach to move containerized cargo emissions-free.

“Ports are essential to global trade and our state and local economies,” said Port of Oakland Executive Director Danny Wan. “But we’ve got an obligation to minimize the impact of our operations on the community and the state can help us achieve our objective.”

More than 6,000 big rigs are registered to transport cargo containers in and out of Oakland. Dozens of pieces of cargo handling equipment lift the mammoth boxes at its four marine terminals. Nearly all those vehicles are diesel-powered. The request to the state calls for funds to help supply chain operators electrify equipment. The objective: cut emissions of diesel particulates and greenhouse gas.

Port of Oakland reports a 98% drop in harmful diesel truck emissions over the past decade through clean truck programs. The next step, according to the Port, is a switch by freight haulers to electric big rigs. Oakland and other ports want California to provide $1 billion in financing for truckers ready to convert. An electric truck can cost up to $500,000.

The state has also been asked for $1 billion to fund electric charging stations at California ports. They’re considered a prerequisite for electrifying trucks and cranes that move containerized cargo through marine terminals.

“We share your goals of reducing greenhouse gas emissions, improving air quality and public health, and transitioning to zero-emission vehicles and cargo handling equipment,” said signatories to the request for state surplus revenue. “Our commitment to this goal is evident in our collective global leadership to innovate and implement cutting-edge emission reduction practices. To continue this trajectory, it is imperative that the state’s policy leadership be accompanied by major fiscal investments to achieve these goals.”

In addition to California’s largest ports, other signers of the letter to Gov. Newsom included: The Bay Area Council, The Sierra Club, The Environmental Defense Fund, and Earthjustice.

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