Environment Forum

Major California port sees greener trucks

cleantruckOne of California’s biggest ports has cleaned up its fleet of 8,000 trucks.

The Port of Long Beach has cut nearly 80 percent of emissions from truck engines at the port since it started its ban of old diesel-fueled trucks. That’s roughly 200 tons less of soot — known as particulate matter — in the air at the port annually.

In 2008, the port of Long Beach, together with its sister port in Los Angeles started to green their truck fleets, targeting trucks built before 1989. Together the ports make up the busiest cargo hub in the United States.

In 2010 the ban at Long Beach ramps up to prohibit trucks from 1993 and older, plus trucks from 1994 to 2003 that have not been updated with exhaust filters to meet strict emissions standards.

The move at Long Beach has drawn controversy from the trucking industry, but reflects a broader trend toward smart mobility and to make transport hubs around the world greener.

Mickey Mouse meets Mr. Polar Bear at green theme park

Southern California — home to Disneyland, the mother of all amusement parks — welcomed a new attraction this month. But this theme park has no Mickey Mouse or roller coasters and is housed inside a mall instead of spread out over a swath of space.

Called Environmentaland, it is more of an interactive museum that has taken the environment as its theme.

The goal is to show there are “no free rides in life,” said Eric Ritz, executive director of Global Inheritance. The nonprofit opened the self-proclaimed first environmental theme park this month in Hollywood.

For water, it’s still Chinatown, Jake

To help prepare myself for the water series we’ve been running, I went to the movies. Or brought home a DVD, anyway. I rented “Chinatown,” the fictional 1974 Roman Polanski movie with Jack Nicholson and Faye Dunaway, which is all about the growth of Los Angeles and the search/theft for water.

 Considering that the current Las Vegas water chief, one of the most respected urban conservation advocates, is working on a much-criticized pipeline to take water from Northern Nevada at the same time Las Vegas cuts water use , this old movie may still have something to teach.

Chinatown, where the main character Jake used to work, is reviled as a place that’s just too complicated and hard to understand. Thus the phrase “Forget it, Jake. It’s Chinatown.” I took Chinatown as a metaphor for the obscurity of the water debate, and it is still complicated.

Cities in U.S. Southwest face thirsty times

The fast-growing U.S. Southwest has a problem: too many people, not enough water.

But then, what do you expect when you build cities like Las Vegas in the middle of a desert?

My colleagues Tim Gaynor and Steve Gorman have done a story on this, looking at the water woes of Los Angeles and Las Vegas. You can see their report here and other stories from our water package here.

California ports’ emissions plan: Full steam ahead!

Today, Reuters ran a story about the Los Angeles and Long Beach ports’ aggressive plan to slash pollutants — mostly exhaust from diesel engines — that have harmed air quality and contributed to health concerns in the local communities.  In implementing the plan, the ports have butted heads with some of the industries that they do business with, such as shippers, railroads and truckers.

Nevertheless, the plan is moving full steam ahead, so to speak.

During the course of reporting this story, we visited both ports to get an up-close view of some of the measures they are taking. The two videos below demonstrate two of those efforts, one at each port.

The first, from the Port of Long Beach, shows a technology to cap and collect emissions from a ship’s engines using a 2,500-pound “bonnet” made by Advanced Cleanup Technologies Inc. The bonnet is lifted about 150 feet in the air to collect the exhaust from the ship’s auxiliary engines, which is then vaccuumed into a treatment system to remove the pollutants. The video first shows the bonnet affixed to the top of the ship, and later shows it being removed, allowing the dirty black smoke to escape into the atmosphere.

L.A. to be greenest big U.S. city?

downtownla.jpgLooking for clean air and lots of greenery? Los Angeles is probably not the first place that comes to mind.

Still, the city as famous for traffic and smog as it is for sunshine and celebrities is working hard to earn the mantle of the greenest big city in America.

In its latest move, the L.A. City Council this week passed a law that will require all new building projects bigger than 50 units or 50,000 square feet to comply with the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) building standards. The city claims the move will cut its carbon dioxide emissions by 80,000 tons by 2012 — the equivalent of taking 15,000 cars off the road.