Two ships sit berthed at the Long Beach Container Terminal at Middle Harbor at the Port of Long Beach Wednesday, Sept. 14, 2022. Photo by Brandon Richardson.

The Port of Long Beach announced Friday that it will receive a $30.1 million grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation to deploy the nation’s largest fleet of manually operated, zero-emission cargo-handling equipment at a single marine terminal.

The funding is a critical step toward reaching the port’s goal of operating a fully zero-emission cargo-handling fleet by 2030 as part of the joint Clean Air Action Plan, which was first implemented in 2007 and then updated in 2017.

Funding for the new clean air project comes from the 2022 Port Infrastructure Development Program, which is administered by the U.S. Maritime Administration, and will replace diesel yard tractors at the Long Beach Container Terminal with approximately 60 electric, human-operated yard tractors.

The project at the container terminal, which can move over 3 million cargo container units annually, includes the construction of electric equipment charging stations with energy efficiency-enhancing software, training for operators and maintenance personnel, and installation of software equipment to streamline cargo-handling operations within the terminal.

This project “is everything we strive for as the nation’s most sustainable seaport— moving cargo in a way that protects the health of our residents while ensuring our operations can continue to grow and support the economy,” Port of Long Beach executive director Mario Cordero said in a statement.

Since 2021, the port has implemented several initiatives to mitigate its environmental impacts, including launching its Clean Truck Fund Rate and committing $150 million to zero- and near-zero-emission demonstration projects.

The port also aims to have a zero-emission drayage truck fleet by 2035, but in September, the port announced that its trucking company partner, 4 Gen Logistics, will convert to fully zero emissions by 2025, 10 years ahead of its 2035 goal.

Currently, about 17% of the cargo-handling equipment at the port is electric-powered, the largest such fleet in the United States, according to the port.

Compared to 2005, the year before the Clean Air Action Plan was adopted, the Port of Long Beach has reduced emissions of diesel particulate matter by 88%, nitrogen oxides by 49%, and sulfur oxides by 96%, according to a statement.

Still, more work needs to be done: Last year, unprecedented congestion drove up emissions. The port’s annual emissions inventory report showed that greenhouse gas emissions last year were 22% above 2005 levels.

“I want to thank our partners at the Department of Transportation for continuing to invest in the Port of Long Beach,” said Mayor Robert Garcia in a statement. “We’ve made incredible progress through the Clean Air Action Plan, and this funding to expand the use of zero-emission equipment will continue to improve community health as we strengthen our supply chain.”

Ports work toward 2030 goal for full fleet of zero-emission cargo equipment