Reducing our Seaport Emissions

The Port of Seattle has been working collaboratively with regulatory agencies, neighboring ports, the maritime industry and the surrounding business and recreation community to find new ways to reduce diesel and greenhouse gas emission levels at our seaport that not just meets, but exceeds regulatory requirements and laws. In 2007, the Port of Seattle launched the Northwest Ports Clean Air Strategy with the Port of Tacoma and Port Metro Vancouver – setting goals to reduce diesel and greenhouse gas emissions by developing science-based innovative programs that focus on all maritime sectors.

As a result of these programs, the Port of Seattle estimates that overall diesel emissions were reduced by 27 percent in the period between 2005 and 2011, including 34 percent from ocean going vessels, 53 percent from trucks and 39 percent from cargo handling equipment. Greenhouse gases also went down by 5 percent over the same time period. In 2014, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency awarded the Port of Seattle with a Clean Air Excellence Award in recognition of its Seaport Air Quality Program.

At-Berth Clean Fuels (ABC Fuels): As part of the NW Ports Clean Air Strategy, the Port of Seattle began providing financial incentives for ship operators to burn fuel with a sulfur content of less than 0.5% in main or auxiliary engines while berthed at port piers in 2009. In 2013, the POS increased the incentive for vessels that burned fuel with a sulfur content of 0.1% or less. Over its six-year run, the ABC Fuels program eliminated more than 850 metric tons of sulfur dioxide.

In January 2015 the International Maritime Organization instituted a rule requiring all vessels operating within 200 nautical miles of the U.S. and Canadian coastlines to use fuel with a sulfur content of 0.1 % or less. As such, the Port of Seattle successfully ended its innovative ABC Fuels program.

Clean Trucks Program: In addition to reducing emissions from ships and cargo-handling equipment, the Port of Seattle has created an innovative program to reduce emissions from drayage trucks. On January 1, 2018, all drayage trucks entering POS container terminals must have model-year 2007 or newer engines, or meet 2007 federal emissions standards.

Recognizing the cost burden this requirement can place on truck owners, the Port and Puget Sound Clean Air Agency launched ScRAPS 2 (Seaport Truck Scrappage and Replacements for air in Puget Sound 2) in May 2014.  The program provides $20,000 to $30,000 to eligible owners who scrap old trucks and buy newer ones that meet the standard.

Ambitious Goals for the Future: In 2013, the NW Ports Clean Air Strategy was updated and new goals were set to be even more ambitious than before including reducing diesel emissions per ton of cargo by 80 percent of 2005 levels by 2020 and cut greenhouse gas emissions by 15 percent from 2005 levels by 2020.