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Port of LA: How to reduce emissions in the US’s most polluted area

5 min read

Port of LA: How to reduce emissions in the US’s most polluted area

The Port of Los Angeles is one of the busiest, yet least efficient, container ports in the world – a combination that equals more vessels, more trucks, and, consequently, more emissions. In fact, the LA and Long Beach region is home to some of the most polluted areas in the US, where fine particles often violate the nation’s health standards. To help reduce emissions in the area and accelerate resilient transformation, Einride will start the construction of the country’s largest charging station for electric heavy-duty trucks in 2023.

“As we continue to move record-breaking cargo volumes, it is imperative that we transform the road freight industry, which accounts for 8% of global CO2 emissions. Congestion and inefficiencies at ports like Los Angeles and Long Beach reduce capacity, raise prices for goods, and create air pollution that disproportionately impacts surrounding communities deepening environmental inequality. The need for smarter solutions has never been greater,” says Michelle Avary, VP of Product Strategy & Government Affairs US at Einride.

There is a way to keep moving record-breaking numbers of goods without the harmful impact trucks currently have in the region by focusing on electric vehicles and optimizing their capacity. One of the main barriers to the widespread adoption of smarter solutions and electric heavy-duty vehicles is access to reliable and convenient charging infrastructure, which is why Einride will open its first Einride Station on US soil and dedicated to electric trucks in the LA region, close to the I-710. The I-710 serves as a heavy-trucking route for the movement of goods from the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach to the rest of the country. The station will cater to the electric transition in the greater Los Angeles area, leading to higher fleet productivity and improved air quality for the local communities. 

Once the project is fully operational, Einride will be able to help shippers and carriers save up to 52,807 tonnes of CO2 emissions per year by allowing them to transition their operations to electric trucks. This will ultimately have a direct impact on pollution-burdened communities by reducing both air and noise pollution.

Container Ship Port of La

Local communities in the line of fire

Despite local government efforts to reduce fossil fuel pollution, the port’s latest Inventory of Air Emissions showed sharp growth in emissions in 2021 due to a series of supply chain disruptions, which have increased the presence of diesel trucks in residential areas as the sector struggles to keep up with growing demand. According to South Coast AQMD, the high concentration of diesel trucks, ships, trains and cargo-handling equipment makes the Port of LA the largest source of smog-forming pollution in Southern California. Diesel trucks are the port’s largest source of greenhouse gas emissions and the second-highest source of nitrogen oxides, a contributor to regional smog formation. 

Local communities are especially burdened by these problems as they live, work, play and attend schools adjacent to the ports, railyards, and freight corridors and experience the heaviest truck traffic. According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, exposure to air pollution associated with emissions from diesel engines can contribute to significant health problems, including premature mortality, increased hospital admissions for heart and lung disease, increased cancer risk, and increased respiratory symptoms – especially for the elderly, outdoor workers, and children. In fact, children in contact with polluted air are five times as likely to have clinically low lung function than children who breathe clean air. 

“A widespread electric transition across the US will benefit exposed communities and support the process of reaching environmental equality, both in the LA region and the rest of the country," says Michelle.

Switching to zero-emission trucks can save 66,800 lives

Inequality plays a perverse role in how the population is affected by the hazardous impacts of climate change. The communities surrounding the Port of LA, Long Beach, and the I-710 are, in general, composed of economically disadvantaged and predominantly Black and Latino families – a trend that can be found in different parts of the country. Across the US, 72 million people live nearby heavy-trucking routes, and they are more likely to be people of color with lower incomes.

“A widespread transition to zero-emission trucks and electricity would improve health, especially in communities near major trucking routes,” says Harold Wimmer, president and CEO of the American Lung Association. “This transition would make important progress toward health equity.”

According to a report by the American Lung Association, the transition to zero-emission heavy-duty transportation and clean, non-combustion energy by 2050 would result in up to US$ 735 billion in cumulative health benefits, 66,800 avoided deaths, 1.75 million avoided asthma attacks, and 8.5 million avoided lost workdays. The county that is expected to see the most significant health benefits from this transition is Los Angeles County, followed by Cook County, Illinois, and Harris County, Texas. 

The newly passed Inflation Reduction Act can further speed up the electric transition in the US by lowering the initial cost of cleaner electric transportation with a combination of grants, tax credits and loan guarantees.

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Accelerate the electric transition with Einride Stations

With 6MW of power and 65 Einride chargers, the first US Einride Station will serve up to 200 trucks and, through the implementation of Einride Saga, ensure reliable and resilient fleet operations. 

“With Einride Saga, we can be precise on the demand, location, timing, and utilization of charging infrastructure, and in turn, unlock seamless and scalable access to capacity - with zero direct emissions. We are currently exploring additional sites to build charging infrastructure across key strategic locations in the US, ensuring shippers can transition to large-scale and cost-efficient electric freight,” says Michelle.

The Los Angeles Einride Station will provide services and amenities such as vehicle maintenance and a drivers’ lounge. Initially, it will serve as a pivotal enabler in the deployment of Maersk’s fleet of Einride Trucks. The station will also be available to future Einride deployments and non-Einride fleets.

Einride is deploying grids around the world – bringing together products, technology and partners. Read more about how and where this is happening here.

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