EPA, Ossoff announce $4 billion in federal funding

The EPA noted two new programs that will come from these funds. First, the Clean Ports Program will put $3 billion toward technologies to reduce harmful air and climate pollutants at ports. The second, the Clean Heavy-Duty Vehicle Program, will invest an additional $1 billion to reduce vehicle emissions and better protect the health of people living and working near ports, schools and other truck routes.

The EPA is seeking input on how to administer these programs and then the agency will accept competitive proposals from ports like Savannah for how they would put funding to good use. The agency is collecting responses in a formal Request for Information to improve the its understanding of zero-emission trucks and port equipment as well as infrastructure requirements. The deadline to submit input is June 5.

Savannah isn’t, nor is any other city, guaranteed this money. But Regan and Ossoff both noted that EPA chose to make this announcement in Savannah, the nation’s third busiest deep-water port, due to its strength and growth.

Credit: Photo by Marisa Mecke

Credit: Photo by Marisa Mecke

Local leadership can make the difference

Flanked by Georgia Port Authority employees and local representatives from the International Longshoremen’s Association 1414, Regan said he came to Savannah to recognize the city’s leadership in port development and how it has already started leading the charge in reducing the negative environmental impacts ports have had on surrounding communities, usually communities of color.

Previously, the EPA awarded GPA $9 million in Diesel Emission Reduction Act funds to reduce diesel emissions and improve air quality by upgrading and replacing older freight trucks, cargo handling equipment and marine engines with cleaner models.

“One of the EPA’s top priorities is ensuring that all people in this country, no matter the color of your skin, or the zip code that you live in, have clean air to breathe and clean water to drink,” Regan said. “But we all know that too many communities who reside near our nation’s ports experience unhealthy air quality.”

Air quality at the forefront

Industrial activities, including ports, have historically caused poor air quality for residents nearby. Currently, the EPA is looking to strengthen its national standards for PM 2.5, the smallest type of air pollution particles that are the most hazardous to public health. Should the policy receive approval, several places in Georgia could be out of compliance for their faltering air quality due to pollution. That means industries will have to find new ways to cut emissions.

Regan said funding and programming like the $4 billion announced Friday will be pivotal for the nation, and local areas like those in Georgia, to reach compliance goals. Not only does promoting electrification help with greenhouse gas emissions, but it is key to decreasing health hazards.

Marisa Mecke is an environmental journalist. She can be reached at 912-328-4411 or at mmecke@gannett.com.

This article originally appeared on Savannah Morning News: EPA, Ossoff announce $4 billion in federal funding for port electrification


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