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California issues draft plan for more efficient, less polluting freight system

California agency leaders released the Draft California Sustainable Freight Action Plan, an ambitious document that lays a foundation for modernizing California’s multi-billion dollar freight transportation system.

The Draft Action Plan puts forward a single shared vision to improve the efficiency of California’s freight system while reducing its pollution, while continuing to bolster the competitiveness of California’s goods movement system nationally and internationally. Key components of the Action Plan include:

  • A long-term 2050 vision and guiding principles for California’s future freight transport system.

  • Improve freight system efficiency 25% by 2030.

  • Deploy more than 100,000 zero-emission vehicles/equipment and maximize near-zero by 2020.

  • Foster future economic growth within the freight and goods movement industry.

Developed in response to Governor Brown’s Executive Order B-32-15, which calls for a single integrated action plan for California, the Draft Action Plan was drafted by the California State Transportation Agency; California Environmental Protection Agency; Natural Resources Agency; California Air Resources Board; California Department of Transportation; California Energy Commission; and Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development with broad stakeholder input.

The Executive Order directs the state agencies to pursue a shared vision to “improve freight efficiency, transition to zero-emission technologies and increase the competitiveness of California’s freight system.” Benefits include meeting the state’s freight infrastructure, public health, air quality and climate goals.

Achieving the Draft Action Plan’s objectives will require strategic partnerships and well-coordinated investments in new technologies and major infrastructure upgrades. The plan provides an opportunity for leveraging new federal, State, local and private investment for these freight transport system improvements.

California’s freight system is the most extensive and interconnected freight system in the United States and comprises several deep water seaports; cargo airports; border crossings; and a vast warehousing and distribution sector, all connected by a network of more than 11,000 miles of railroad track and Interstate and state highways.

Each component is critical and the system depends on these interconnected facilities working in concert to move freight in and out of California to the rest of the nation and across the globe. California’s freight-dependent industries accounted for more than $740 billion in revenue and more than 5 million jobs in 2014.

While freight transport in California is a major economic engine for the state, emissions from ships, harbor craft, trucks, locomotives, cargo equipment, aircraft and other freight participants account for about half of toxic diesel particulate matter (PM2.5), 45% of the NOx emissions that form ozone and fine particulate matter in the atmosphere, and 6% of all greenhouse gas emissions in California. Many of these pollutants are emitted in close proximity to communities and pose health risks to nearby residents, highlighting the need for additional steps to protect public health.

The draft we are releasing today represents an unprecedented collaboration among government agencies, in keeping with the importance of the freight sector to our economy and our environment. The plan commits to include all stakeholders at every step in the process, from refining goals and selecting pilot projects through implementation into the coming decade. Our challenge is to deliver both public health and economic benefits at our ports, on our highways, and in our communities throughout the state.

—California Air Resources Board Chair Mary D. Nichols.

The Draft Action Plan builds on existing State agency strategies, including the California Freight Mobility Plan, Sustainable Freight Pathways to Zero and Near- Zero Emissions Discussion Document and the Integrated Energy Policy Report. Broad stakeholder input provided over the past several months, including 11 workshops across the state, inform this Draft Action Plan.

The Draft Action Plan is available now for stakeholder and public feedback through 6 July 2016. Additionally, agency staff will present it as an informational item at public meetings of the California Freight Advisory Committee, the California Transportation Commission and California Air Resources Board in May.

After consideration of comments and any new information received, the agencies involved will make changes as appropriate and provide the Action Plan to the Agency Secretaries for Transportation, Environmental Protection, and Natural Resources for consideration and submittal to the Governor.

After transmittal, the State agencies will continue work with federal, State, industry, regional, local, and environmental and community-based partners to inform, refine, and prioritize the strategies and actions identified in the Action Plan. As the State agencies move forward gathering additional information and developing the actions, pilot project, and other Action Plan concepts further, the concepts may change, be adjusted, or new concepts may be added. Implementation of the concepts will also be conditional based on the successful completion of applicable public processes, necessary financing approvals, technical analysis, and economic and environmental reviews.

Full economic impact analyses will be required of regulatory actions developed by the Air Resources Board before the Board considers such actions.


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