State of the Port of Long Beach 2023 Highlights & Imagines a ‘ZEERO’ Emissions Port


In his 2023 State of the Port address, POLB Executive Director Mario Cordero reports the port is on track to meet emissions reduction targets while continuing to operate one of the highest volume seaports in the nation. Highlighting opportunities for offshore wind development at the Port of Long Beach, Cordero announces ZEERO—the Zero Emissions, Energy Resilient Operations Program—to invest in projects aimed at reducing the impacts of operations and improving air quality. View the full State of the Port program, online, here

Mario Cordero: Hotel California is a great song with great lyrics. When I was offered this job, I said,  “this can be heaven or this could be hell.” It's been heaven!

 I want to take a quick minute to tell you about the theme at this State of the Port. I'm going to talk about our environmental and social responsibility and our sustainable development. Despite the fact that we're a public department of the city with limited resources, we have made great strides.

Today, I'm going to share our collective story. After everything that this industry and the world has been through in the last few years, it's an honor and a privilege to be here with you all today. Without question, no matter the challenge, this community and this industry have learned to adapt. We've learned to grow, change, and most importantly, to imagine.

Speaking of imagination, it was in 1961 when President John F. Kennedy declared we would have a man on the moon by the end of the decade. It was called the moonshot. For the President's moonshot, the naysayers were many. Still the President's resolve was strong. The moonshot for the Port of Long Beach is our quest for zero emission.

Today, despite the skeptics, I'm here to tell you that the Port of Long Beach is on track to accomplish our mission.

Today, I will walk you through the evidentiary record, based on not headlines, but based on fact.

In the Fall of 2004, the Port of Long Beach brought forth the following question: imagine if we were a green port? The aforementioned question was answered. The Port of Long Beach is a leader in sustainability in January of 2005 when the Harbor Commission moved forward with the unprecedented Green Port Policy. At that time, no other port in the nation expressed this as a policy mandate.

The Green Port Policy was adopted by the Commission in 2005 was a clear, elegant statement. We were committed to sustainability then, and we're committed now. We have moved from simply reducing emissions to eradicating emissions. I am here, 18 years later, to tell you it is working with clear results.

Among the world's seaports, the old trucks are replaced by newer, cleaner trucks. Two-thirds of the truck fleet is 2014 or newer.

Diesel emissions for trucks have been cut 97 percent since 2005.

Ships docking at all California major ports are plugged into clean, shoreside electricity thanks to technology pioneered here at the Port of Long Beach.

As far back as 2003, the Port of Long Beach recognized that 24/7 operations would be necessary as cargo volumes increased. Over the years, truck gates have been extended to non-rush hours. The momentum continues to build towards a framework for 24/7 operations. Today 95 percent of ships on the way to the port slow down to burn less fuel and reduce emissions. We're investing $1.5 billion into rail improvements that will help put even more cargo on trains.

Given those accomplishments, do you think I'm here to say mission accomplished? Not in the least.

This green port has plenty of work ahead, but let there be no doubt the Port of Long Beach is leading the way.

In pursuit of the greenhouse gases that contribute to climate change, we're going to zero. It was 2017 when we set the world's most aggressive goals for zero-emission operations. Today 17 percent of cargo handling equipment are zero-emission, more than any port in the United States.

By 2030, we're going to have all zero-emission cargo heavy equipment in our terminals. By 2035, drayage trucks will be zero emission. Keep in mind, when we convert 20,000 heavy-duty trucks to zero-emission, the results will go viral in the best way. I predict that a larger fleet of non-drayage heavy duty trucks will also see the way forward to zero emission.

Just look at what took place in 2022. In April, along with the Port of Los Angeles, we started collecting for the Clean Truck Fund. In August, we welcomed the first LNG ship to refuel on the West Coast.

In September, we held a groundbreaking for 30 charging units that will be built at the Fourth Gen trucking yard by Electrify America for the 61 zero-emission battery electric trucks Fourth Gen announced it was purchasing. By 2025, Fourth Gen plans to have a 100 percent zero-emission fleet with charging stations in its yard at our port and their facility in Rialto. That's 10 years before the port zero-emission drayage goal.

In October, the Port announced it was joining the state's largest hydrogen fuel network as we plan ahead for zero-emission trucks and other vehicles to run on green hydrogen. This strengthens the case for hydrogen fuel cell technology to be part of the larger emission revolution here at the port complex. In November, we dedicated the first publicly-available charging station for electrified heavy-duty trucks anywhere in the nation, right at the terminal access center in the Port of Long Beach. We expect stations to be open all over Southern California, just like diesel stations on many corners today. 

When it comes to our remarkable zero-emission demonstration projects, the participants are showing how much we've accomplished since our declaration in November 2017 to achieve zero emissions.

The technology that has evolved over the last five years has been significant. Imagine what the next five years will bring.

While other ports offer incentives for cargo, we offer incentives for environmental performance. That is another example of how important environmental stewardship is to this port.

At the Port of Long Beach, we value and support this local community. Since 2005, we've made some dramatic improvements in air quality. While we know the job isn't over as we continue to work to reduce greenhouse gases, the reductions we've made have been significant. Today's truck fleet emits 97 percent less particulate matter than in 2005. Cargo heavy equipment here emits 92 percent less diesel particulate matter, and locomotives emit 53 percent less. Our zero-emission plans will take us to the next level of reductions as well.

I am proud to be part of an industry that offers innovative approaches and forward-thinking initiatives.

The supply chain’s stakeholders, in turn, provide a crucial service to this country, to this state, and to the nation. If our customers and stakeholders don't move the goods, the economy doesn't move. They do it day in, day out, but let's imagine if we can do it day and night: 24/7. I know there’s naysayers about the idea of 24/7, but there were naysayers in 2005 when we said we were going to be a green port. I predict we'll get there at some point.

Capital improvement projects, including several on-dock rail projects, move steadily along at the Port as we continue to reap, build, and enhance our port facilities. For example, the Pier B on-dock rail Support Facility will dramatically boost capacity efficiency of cargo movement throughout the San Pedro Bay complex.

Last year also saw major milestones for the Port’s planned channel deepening project, which will allow the largest ships to easily transit through the harbor, improving efficiency and the environment. Just last month, President Biden signed the Federal Water Resources Development Act, authorizing the Army Corps of Engineers to proceed. It is a much-needed project that will further cement the port's reputation for having the most up-to-date and best-designed facilities.

Our reputation as a premier seaport is well known.

In 2022, we were voted the best West Coast seaport by the readers of the Asia Cargo News for the fourth consecutive year. It is an honor to share this with all our stakeholders who continue to make this port the port of choice.

Last year, during the months we were experiencing record shipments, I said cargo volume is not the sole metric of success for the Port of Long Beach. Rather, how we serve our customers, contribute to our local community, mitigate the impacts to our neighborhoods, and serve our labor force are important metrics. Given our success and leadership in these areas, the Port of Long Beach is number one.

Our Environmental, Social, Governance is as important as the cargo volume. Now, thanks to our financial stability and resiliency, the Harbor Department recently received a stellar credit rating from Standard and Poor's. It is a remarkable accomplishment in light of our capital improvement expenditures in the past decade and the funds we have committed for the next decade. That’s a financial commitment far exceeding any port in the nation.

Let the record be clear, the San Pedro Bay complex remains the number one container gateway. The 9.1 million TEUs processed here at the Port of Long Beach makes 2022 nothing short of our second busiest year. It's also worth noting that with 1.5 million TEUs of loaded exports, we are the number one US exporter for the second year in a row.

Our marine terminals and labor had so much to handle last year. We started off at a record number of ships, 109, queuing to wait entry to the San Pedro Bay ports in January 2022. Now fast forward to this month, there has been no vessel backup since November. That is an impressive performance in the face of the rapidly shifting conditions in international trade. Operations at the West Coast ports have continued without any interruptions. In fact, our resilient labor force and terminal operators haven't stopped or even slowed through the pandemic.

Allow me to turn to some exciting environmental news from the Port of Long Beach. Today I'm announcing a new policy, a signature commitment to decarbonization that we call ZEERO, for Zero Emissions, Energy Resilient Operations. This is where we will coalesce all of our efforts at the Port and beyond to achieve a carbon-neutral future.

We know we require additional power for zero-emission programs. Indeed, that is part of our ZEERO effort—to create the infrastructure and power systems that we will need to ensure continuity and resiliency of critical port operations. ZEERO is a major step forward. We're the first port to adopt a policy this far-reaching, and we know that it will be at other ports. We will continue to lead here, just as we have with the Green Port Policy.

I have another announcement to make. Another part of ZEERO is the new Pier Wind Vision at the Port of Long Beach. To join in the efforts to harness renewable energy and clean power of offshore wind, we are willing and able to answer the call by the Biden-Harris administration for ways to increase sources of renewable energy. As a deepwater port with the best attributes in the state for a wind turbine assembly facility, the port of Long Beach aims to have a major role in this exciting new program.

For Long Beach, the project means new jobs for the workforce. For the Port of Long Beach and the State it means tapping new renewable energy, something especially needed as more and more zero-emission technologies are put into service. For the offshore wind concept, we have the ideal location, the skilled workforce, and the space. We are confident that we will have a strong, highly regarded proposal for this new venture.

As I conclude, you can see the Port of Long Beach has achieved a great deal of environmental progress. We have a resume of success and a resolve second to none. Yes, it's been a difficult three years for many, and certainly for the port, but as you can see, the work, the imagination, the advocacy by our port, and our stakeholders never stopped.

It has been an exciting year. We have great plans for this year to come. I hope that all of you will continue to join us on this journey. To the beneficial cargo owners, the American shippers, the international carriers, and all those who believe in environmental social governance, reducing pollution, and the quest for zero emission, I call on you to do business with the green port; the port of choice; the Port of Long Beach.

“In the Fall of 2004, the Port of Long Beach brought forth the following question: imagine if we were a green port. The aforementioned question was answered in January of 2005 when the Harbor Commission moved forward with the unprecedented Green Port Policy…[t]oday I'm announcing a new policy, a signature commitment to decarbonization that we call ZEERO, for Zero Emissions, Energy Resilient Operations.” —Mario Cordero