DOT announces $148 million in grants to combat truck pollution at US ports

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Ship docked at US port
The DOT has announced $148 million in grants to help reduce truck emissions at major US ports.

The Biden Administration announced Wednesday that the Department of Transportation (DOT) is distributing $148 million in grants to 11 states and Puerto Rico as the first stage of a $400 million program designed to reduce emissions and improve air quality for truck drivers, port workers and citizens living in disadvantaged communities in the surrounding areas.

The funding comes from the Reduction of Truck Emissions at Port Facilities Grant Program, which is part of President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) that was signed into law in November 2021. The program’s goal is to cut back on pollution coming from idling trucks parked at America’s key ports. Improving supply chains and updating infrastructure are additional program goals. 

“When truckers spend hours idling at ports, it’s bad for drivers, bad for supply chains, and bad for nearby communities that feel the brunt of more polluted air,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg. 

Among the 11 states receiving the funds are California ($49.7 million), Texas ($26.9 million), Georgia ($15.3 million), Florida ($10 million), Louisiana ($7.1 million), and New Jersey ($2.2 million). 

The Golden State, for example, plans to use these funds for improvements to the ports of Long Beach, Oakland, and Los Angeles specifically to discontinue the usage of diesel- and gas-powered trucks and shuttle buses. They will be replaced with electric trucks, EV chargers and other unspecified zero-emission technologies. The other states also plan to replace ICE trucks with low-emission and zero-emission equipment. 

“The projects funded under this program will improve the quality of life for workers and families impacted by pollution from idling trucks while building a clean-energy economy that combats climate change and makes our communities more resilient,” said Federal Highway Administrator Shailen Bhatt. “Port-related trade is good for the economy, which is why we are pleased to announce this investment from President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law that will make a real difference for people who live and work near ports.”

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The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) said this is the first round of grants for a total of 16 projects whose goal is to reduce pollution in communities located near these ports. These disadvantaged communities, FHWA said, currently suffer from “the negative environmental impacts of idling trucks.” Improving port roadway accessibility is another key priority. 

In his 2022 State of the Union address, President Biden revealed the Justice40 Initiative, another component of the Reduction of Truck Emissions at Port Facilities Grant Program. The Initiative's goal is for 40% of federal climate, clean energy and affordable and sustainable housing investments to go to communities that suffer from heavy pollution. 

“The investments we are announcing today will save truck drivers time and money and help ports reduce congestion and emissions, while making the air more breathable for workers and communities,” said Buttigieg.

Jay Traugott has covered the automotive and transportation sector for over a decade and now serves as Senior Editor for Clean Trucking. He holds a drifting license and has driven on some of the world's best race tracks, including the Nurburgring and Spa. He lives near Boulder, Colorado, and spends his free time snowboarding, climbing, and hiking. He can be reached at [email protected].

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