The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has announced the launch of the $3 billion Clean Ports Program to help fund zero-emission port equipment and infrastructure, helping to address the climate crisis and enhance air quality near U.S. ports.

The program was established under President Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act of 2022, the largest climate investment in history, and aims to advance environmental justice by reducing diesel pollution from U.S. ports in neighboring communities, while also creating well-paying jobs.

The EPA has issued two separate Notice of Funding Opportunities (NOFOs) totaling nearly $3 billion as part of today’s announcement. The Zero-Emission Technology Deployment Competition, with nearly $2.8 billion, will fund zero-emission port equipment and infrastructure. The Climate and Air Quality Planning Competition, with approximately $150 million, will fund climate and air quality planning activities.

The funding is available to port authorities, state, regional, local, or tribal agencies that have jurisdiction over a port authority or port, air pollution control agencies, and private entities that apply in partnership with an eligible entity. The funds can be used for projects at water ports (coastal and inland) as well as projects at facilities where goods are transferred between rail cars and trucks (dry ports).

The funding opportunities, part of President Biden’s Investing in America agenda, were announced by EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan, at an event in Wilmington, North Carolina.

“Our nation’s ports are among the busiest in the world, helping us to create good jobs here in America, move goods, and grow our economy,” said Regan.

Antonio Santos, Federal Climate Policy Director at Pacific Environment, applauded the EPA for the investment and said the funding will help save lives and help transition ports to a zero-emissions.
“The $3 billion in funding will move ports off of fossil fuels and instead use clean technologies like electrification and hydrogen fuel cells. It is imperative that we protect port workers and frontline communities from further exposure to harmful air pollution,” said Santos.

Speaking on behalf of the U.S. ports industry, the American Association of Port Authorities (AAPA) said the industry is “beyond thrilled” to apply for the federal investments, but warned that strict enforcement of equipment procurement rules could hamper the program due to the immaturity of the American supply chain for electric port equipment. “We strongly support EPA’s efforts to allow for sourcing from our allies because it is ultimately great for growing a prosperous America,” the AAPA statement said.
The Clean Ports Program, part of the Justice40 Initiative, aims to direct 40% of federal climate and clean energy investments to pollution-burdened communities. The program builds on the success of EPA’s Ports Initiative and the Diesel Emissions Reduction Act programs, which have collectively invested over $196 million in 207 diesel emissions reduction projects at ports.

The deadline to apply for the two Clean Ports Program NOFOs is May 28.

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