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California releases Sustainable Freight Action Plan to transform freight system; 25% more efficient by 2030

In response to an Executive Order issued last year by California Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr., state agency leaders on Friday released the California Sustainable Freight Action Plan, a comprehensive document that serves as a blueprint for transforming the state’s multi-billion dollar freight transport system into one that is environmentally cleaner, more efficient, and more economically competitive than it is today.

The revised document is similar to the draft version issued in May 2016, but reflects new input provided by industry, labor, regional and local government, and community and environmental group stakeholders, who submitted more than 85 comments on the draft plan.

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

The Action Plan includes a long term-2050 vision and guiding principles for California’s future freight transport system along with these targets for 2030:

  • 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.

The plan also identifies opportunities to leverage State freight transport system investments, pinpoints actions to initiate over the next five years to meet goals, and lists possible pilot projects to achieve concrete progress in the near term.

Among the new additions to the final plan are placing more focus on key partnerships and a discussion of toxic hot spots. Changes have also been made throughout the document to clarify and emphasize the collaboration between the responsible agencies and other regional planning efforts, including funding.

The Action Plan is the beginning of a process, and signals State government’s interest in collaborating with stakeholders on defining the actions necessary to make the vision for a sustainable freight transport system a reality. This Action Plan is not intended to replace other planning processes and documents such as the California Freight Mobility Plan or regional goods movement plans, but rather is intended to inform those efforts by providing a new perspective regarding the sustainability of the freight system and framework for ongoing collaborative processes. State agencies are committed to assessing the impacts of the Action Plan's recommended actions. Deeper analysis of certain actions can take place over time if and when the recommendations are being developed into specific proposals.

—Action Plan

Next steps for state agencies will include continued work with federal, state, industry, labor, regional, local and environmental and community-based partners to refine and prioritize the strategies and actions outlined in the Action Plan. The state agencies will also create collaborative stakeholder working groups on competitiveness, system efficiency, workforce developments, and regulatory and permitting process improvements.

Regular California Freight Advisory Committee meetings will continue, and by July 2017, the state agencies will establish work plans for chosen pilot projects.

Currently, California is the nation’s largest gateway for international trade and domestic commerce, with an interconnected system of ports, railroads, highways and roads that allow freight from around the world to move throughout the state and nation. This system is responsible for one-third of the state’s economic product and jobs, with freight dependent industries accounting for more than $740 billion in gross domestic product and over five million jobs in 2014.


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