Congressman Robert Garcia Introduces the ‘Clean Shipping Act’ to Address Port Pollution and Champion Environmental Justice for Local Port Communities
Washington D.C.– Today, Congressman Robert Garcia (CA-42), alongside Senator Alex Padilla (D-Calif.), introduced the Clean Shipping Act of 2023. Congresswoman Nanette Barragán (CA-44) is a co-lead. Global emissions from all vessels account for about 3% of total GHG emissions each year; if international shipping was its own country, it would rank sixth on the list of largest GHG emitters globally.
The Clean Shipping Act of 2023 would set a path to eliminate greenhouse gas emissions from all ocean shipping companies that do business with the United States. The bill aims to clean up the shipping industry, protect the health of port communities, address environmental injustice, and provide solutions to the climate crisis by giving the Environmental Protection Agency the authority to regulate carbon intensity standards for maritime fuel. Technological pathways exist to make this possible.
The American Lung Association has found that the Los Angeles metropolitan area has among the worst smog pollution in the nation – and some of the worst air pollution, overall. A major contributor to this crisis is emissions from ocean vessels that operate out of the Ports of LA and Long Beach. The full text of the bill can be found here.
“The Clean Shipping Act of 2023 is a strong, necessary step that will make our maritime ports greener and address ongoing challenges contributing to the global climate crisis,” said Congressman Garcia. “Not only does this bill drastically decrease shipping emissions in the United States, but it brings long-awaited justice to our port-adjacent communities that have suffered the consequences of port pollution for far too long.”
“This World Ocean Day, I am proud to introduce legislation that improves our shipping industry by reducing emissions in maritime transportation and simultaneously protecting coastal communities,” said Senator Padilla. “California’s port communities have been forced to shoulder the brunt of shipping pollution for too long. The health of our communities and the health of our planet requires us forward thinking and ambitious—we owe it to future generations.”
“The Clean Shipping Act is the game-changer we need to clean up the shipping industry and improve public health in port communities, including communities of color living in my district near the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach. The support of the legislation by the environmental community and the shipping industry shows that zero-emissions shipping is the future, and America should lead the way. To successfully decarbonize the shipping industry at the speed and scale necessary to address the climate crisis, the EPA must set clear standards for zero-emission fuels and zero-emission port technology. Let’s get it done,” said Congresswoman Barragán.
“It’s imperative that we set clean shipping standards, such as those in the Clean Shipping Act, to reach our climate goals and limit the devastating impact of pollution on port communities,” said Katherine Tsantiris, Associate Director of Government Relations at Ocean Conservancy. “This legislation introduced by Congressman Garcia, Congresswoman Nanette Barragán, and Senator Padilla will incentivize industry and innovation to develop, scale and deploy zero-emission shipping technologies. Congress must pass this bill if they’re serious about tackling the climate crisis.”
“The shipping industry has been polluting communities for decades. But recent port expansions have been especially devastating for those living closest to the harbors where large ships spew toxic diesel exhaust that worsens air quality and contributes to the climate crisis. People living near ports deserve to breathe clean air, and the Clean Shipping Act will help make that a reality,” said Katherine García, Director of Sierra Club’s Clean Transportation for All campaign.
“Maersk continues to work actively to decarbonize our global operations by 2040, as demanded by many of our top global customers as well as governments and port communities. We appreciate and recognize the efforts by the United States to lead in climate and environmental progress and to establish structures to accelerate decarbonization. We encourage the U.S. Congress to act on this legislation and to establish processes to ensure the supply of the green fuels and energy essential to low emissions shipping and logistics. The need is pressing. This must be the decade of action.” Said Lee Kindberg, Head of Environment & Sustainability, Maersk North America.
“We commend Congressmembers Garcia, Barragán, and Padilla for leading the effort to reintroduce the Clean Shipping Act to help protect U.S. port communities from toxic pollution. Momentum for shipping decarbonization continues to grow around the world and here in the U.S. with eight out of 10 registered voters wanting to see Congress pass laws that will make the shipping industry cleaner. Mandatory, technology-forcing policies like this bill will send a clear signal to industry that zero-emissions shipping must replace fossil fuels. Now is the time for the U.S. to be a global climate leader, and we urge Congress to pass this important legislation,” said Antonio Santos, Federal Climate Policy Director, Pacific Environment.
“Port communities have suffered too long from toxic air pollution,” said Peter M. Warren, spokesperson with the San Pedro & Peninsula Homeowners Coalition. “Congress must act to protect their constituents from asthma, cancer and even death. The Clean Shipping Act will address a host of health problems but also tackle the issue of climate change. Now is the time to act, thank you to climate leaders Rep. Robert Garcia, Rep. Nanette Barragán and Sen. Alex Padilla for introducing this life-saving legislation.”
“Working class communities of color who are living, working, learning, and playing near our country’s ports are overburdened by air pollution. Children in these communities return home after being hospitalized for asthma and continue to be exposed to harmful environmental triggers. With LBACA’s Community Health Workers supporting children and their families at their homes daily, we know that children need relief from the burden of constant pollution exposure. As shipping throughput is reporting record numbers, the Clean Shipping Act of 2023 is a pathway to improving this major source of pollution. Little lungs that are still developing can benefit from addressing pollution at its source,” said Sylvia Betancourt, Program Manager, Long Beach Alliance for Children with Asthma, a program of Miller Children’s & Women’s Hospital.
The bill is endorsed by the Sierra Club, Pacific Environment, Ocean Conservancy, Environmental Defense Fund, Friends of the Earth, and GreenLatinos. Quotes from these groups can be found here.