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Tunley Environmental urges ports to act now on EPA's $3bn Clean Ports Programme

Tunley Environmental urges ports to act now on EPA's $3bn Clean Ports Programme

(Posted on 07/12/23)

US Port owners should start immediate planning to take advantage of the $3bn available in grants as part of the US Environmental protection Agency’s Clean Ports Programme, specialist environmental consultancy Tunley Environmental advises.

With a Notice of Funding Opportunity expected in February 2024 and successful awards given later in the year in a single cycle, ports will have just months in which to create compelling pitches.

And Yorkshire UK headquartered Tunley Environmental believes this means port owners must prioritise work to determine how best to position their bid.

Providing his four top tips for those considering bids, Tunley’s Environmental chief scientist Rob Moorcroft suggested ports:

“Ports serious about pitching for funding need to get their case in order,” Moorcroft said. “Senior management will need to ensure the bid team gets all the help it can.”

Moorcroft added that ports would need to establish their own starting point, those with little control over private terminals and limited emissions inventory might be best advised to pitch for planning grants. However, ports on the decarbonization pathway could pitch for the zero-emission technology (ZET) grants.

Ports may also need to robustly review their emissions baseline inventory, Moorcroft said, adding that it took Tunley almost a year to perform this task with Port of Detroit /Wayne County Port Authority and so, for those looking to pitch, speed was of the essence

With the biggest funding available for ZET grants, Moorcroft advises ports look carefully at what can best solve emission pain points.

“Low hanging fruit includes investing in retrofit or replacement of diesel powered trucks, quay cranes and goods handling equipment,” he said.

“Another opportunity is to tackle ship emissions. Shore power has been successfully employed at the Port of Los Angeles allowing vessels to operate their non-propulsion ‘hotel’ electricity load using grid energy.”

“Our advice is to show you have meaningful communication with the families, businesses and organizations near the port,” Moorcroft said.

“Even if carbon measures are still to be put in place the key is to demonstrate you are engaging the community and planning to action positive change.”

Moorcroft added he would encourage port authorities to start building relationships with community groups in readiness for a successful grant application.

Moorcroft believes ports must be realistic with what they pitch for, suggesting that with no emissions inventory baseline and a complex ownership structure applying for bigger ZET grants might be impractical.

The EPA is accepting applications of up to $3 million per application for creating a baseline emissions inventory and air quality indicators mapping out a net zero plan, stakeholder engagement and community engagement.

“In our experience, this stakeholder engagement can take time but is the building block to pitching successfully for grant funding,” Moorcroft says.

“Working with a specialist would be key to pulling together a joint planning/implementation grant but you would have to move very fast.

“If a grant application is not realistic, securing funding for a net zero plan will enable you to pitch for other funding. A specialist will be able to help identify alternative funding and grants for you.”

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