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A First Look at the EPA’s Clean Ports Program

To fund zero-emission (ZE) port equipment and technology, as well as assist U.S. ports in developing climate action plans to reduce air pollutants, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Clean Ports Program is a $3 billion program established by the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA). The program is created to work with the port industry to improve the environmental and public health impacts of U.S. ports and retain jobs and competitiveness, a part of the EPA’s broader Ports Initiative.

According to Holland & Knight, during an EPA webinar on Oct. 31, 2023, various members of the Clean Ports Program team outlined the design elements and priorities of the two sub-programs: Climate and Air Quality Planning and ZE Technology Deployment. Staff explained that applicants may be better suited for Planning grants if they have not previously done any planning work and are not ready for technology grants, while those who have done planning and know what technology is right for their port may be better suited for the ZE Technology Deployment grants. However, they emphasized that those interested may apply to both, and they anticipate many will.

The EPA stressed its focus on ZE technologies and related fueling infrastructure operating at ports, including drayage trucks, switcher locomotives, cargo-handling equipment, harbor craft and shore power for ocean-going vessels. They expressed a desire to see current technology operating at ports, such as internal combustion engines and diesel engines, move to ZE technologies with the capacity to serve the same purpose. Above all, every panelist emphasized the EPA’s desire to see meaningful community engagement across grant applications, encouraging prospective applicants to begin community engagement work now.

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