Letters to the Editor: Long Beach’s port has made major progress on clean air, and it wants to do more

A loaded cargo container ship looms beside cars in a parking lot.
A cargo container ship leaves the Port of Long Beach in March 2020.
(Los Angeles Times)

To the editor: We at the Port of Long Beach were surprised to see your editorial casually ignore the remarkable progress we’ve made reducing pollution since adopting the Clean Air Action Plan in 2006.

In fact, our programs are being duplicated by other ports. In April 2021, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency lauded the Clean Air Action Plan as a “collaboration [that] paved the way for significantly cleaner air for near-port communities with environmental justice concerns and [that] can serve as model for port stakeholders nationwide.”

As for diesel soot, the trucks serving the Port of Long Beach today are 97% cleaner than the fleet in 2005. Port-wide, diesel particulate pollution has been cut 88%, nitrogen oxides by 58%, sulfur oxides by 97% and greenhouse gases by 19% — all while cargo has increased by 14%.


Recognizing that we need to do even more, we agreed with the Port of Los Angeles in 2017 to set zero-emissions goals for our cargo handling equipment by 2030 and our trucking fleet by 2035. No other gateway in the world has set such laudable goals.

We also incentivize shipping lines to bring their newest, cleanest ships to Long Beach. More than 95% of ships approaching or leaving the port slow down to reduce emissions, thanks to our Green Flag Vessel Speed Reduction Program.

Your editorial also overlooks the most recent results of the South Coast Air Quality Management District’s Multiple Air Toxics Exposure Study. Earlier this month, it showed a basin-wide population-weighted cancer risk reduction of 54% compared with the previous iteration of the study in 2012.

Today, we’re working on turning the nearly 19,000 trucks in the ports’ drayage fleet into zero-emissions vehicles. It’s a small percentage of the 1.6 million cargo trucks operating in California, but we are confident we can do it, given our track record.

We are certain that we can continue our remarkable progress for the health of everyone.

Mario Cordero, Long Beach

The writer is executive director of the Port of Long Beach.