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ENVIRONMENT: Governor releases blue-sky plans for freight business

Aug 10 2016

Furthering his environmental legacy, Gov. Jerry Brown released sweeping blue-sky plans to propel the state’s commercial trucks, ships and trains toward a zero-emissions future.

The unprecedented effort aims to reshape how cargo is moved around the state – from produce on supermarket shelves to massive shipborne containers unloading at Southern California ports to Amazon boxes that arrive at your doorstep.

Over the past year, planners from the state’s department of transportation, air-quality board, energy commission and Brown’s economic-development wing hammered out the Sustainable Freight Action Plan.

With this collection of 82 goals, Brown aims to make the freight-moving industry run cleaner, without sacrificing its competitive edge.

Among the goals:

• Deploy 100,000 trucks, trains and cargo-moving machines fueled by cleaner fuels or electricity by 2030.

• Launch stricter emissions regulations for trains, delivery trucks and vehicles used at airports by 2023 in a state that already boasts the nation’s toughest air-quality rules.

• Create incentive programs, marketing campaigns and even a sustainable-freight “think tank” that encourage the development of greener technology.

• Generally make the industry more efficient. The less time vehicles spend on the road, participants say, the less they pollute and the more competitive they are.

There is no overall price tag for the program. And the timetable for success is complex, reliant on disparate regulatory boards, shifting state and federal funding, the ever-changing face of the Legislature and buy-in from business leaders.

California State Transportation Agency Secretary Brian Kelly called the effort “an important benchmark in the development of a comprehensive set of state freight policies and programs.”

The effort grew from Brown’s executive order last year to develop a path for a zero-emissions freight system.

The decree pitted groups against each other, such as the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce, which warned that strict emission caps would harm business, and the American Lung Association, which for years has declared that reducing pollutants is essential for a healthy state.

California is the nation’s largest gateway for international trade. Industries dependent on the state’s rail, ships, planes and trucks accounted for $740 billion in revenue in 2014.

But freight equipment accounts for roughly 45 percent of smog-forming nitrogen oxide and about half of the state’s particulate emission, linked by researchers to lung ailments.

By Rachel Uranga, via The Press Enterprise

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