EPA Announces $3 Billion in Clean Port Grants

Grants Will Pay for Zero-Emission Equipment and Infrastructure
Port of Baltimore
Applications are due May 28 for the ports grants. (Port of Baltimore via Facebook)

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The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced $3 billion in grants are available this year in a Clean Ports Program to pay for zero-emission port equipment and infrastructure at the nation’s 300 public and private ports.

“Our nation’s ports are among the busiest in the world, helping us to create good jobs here in America, move goods, and grow our economy,” Michael Regan, EPA administrator, said Feb. 28. “Today we’re making $3 billion available to install cleaner and more efficient technologies while cutting air pollution to protect the people who work at and live near ports.”

The Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 allocated the $3 billion funds for the grants to the EPA, which is dividing them into two separate Notice of Funding Opportunities. The goal of the Clean Ports Program is to transform the national freight sector from traditional port equipment and infrastructure into a futuristic one powered by new uses of electricity and hydrogen in vehicles and machinery to lower air pollution.

EPA’s announcement stated that ports “are places where large concentrations of diesel equipment converge — including ships, trucks, rail and non-road machinery. These diesel engines, particularly older engines found in many ports, operate near where people live, work and play, emitting air pollution that can harm human health and contribute to climate change.”

“There’s an incredible array of new technologies that can make ports cleaner and greener, all while creating good-paying jobs and strengthening American supply chains,” said Ali Zaidi, assistant to President Joe Biden and National Climate Adviser.

The largest federal funding will be $2.79 billion in grants for a Zero-Emission Technology Deployment Competition. Eligible applicants are port authority, government entities with jurisdiction over a port authority/port, and an air pollution control agency. Private companies can apply for grants jointly with the above-mentioned eligible parties but must own, operate or use port facilities, cargo-handling equipment, transportation equipment or related port technology.

The highest zero-emission technology grants to be awarded will be $500 million and the lowest set at $2 million. EPA expects to issue 90 grants.

Government funds can be spent on technology projects at water ports and dry ports (defined as an intermodal truck-rail facility included in the 2024 Federal Highway Administration’s Intermodal Connector Database). Applications under this competition will be evaluated under multiple tiers to ensure grants are distributed to ports of different sizes and types.

EPA has published online a 14-page document called Questions and Answers: Clean Ports Program Competitions that lists a multitude of zero-emission project elements that can be paid for with federal dollars. These include: cargo handling equipment (terminal tractors, forklifts, top handlers, side picks, straddle carriers), drayage trucks, hydrogen fueling infrastructure, battery energy storage systems and electric charging infrastructure.

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The remaining $150 million in grants goes toward the Climate and Air Quality Planning Competition to fund climate and air quality planning at U.S. ports.

For the planning grants, eligible activities include projects for emissions inventory and accounting practices, stakeholder collaboration/communication, strategy analysis and goal-setting, and resiliency planning. About 70 planning grants are to be awarded in amounts from $3 million to $200,000.

Applications are due May 28 for both types of grants. Award selection notifications are scheduled for September. Awards will be granted in December.