By Andrew Littlefair on

Reprinted courtesy of ACT News

By Todd Campbell
Chairman of the Board of Directors, CNGVP
Vice President, Public Policy and Regulatory Affairs, Clean Energy

The air is getting cleaner in the Ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles, thanks to the efforts of six progressive harbor trucking firms that are demonstrating we can slash transportation emissions immediately and cost effectively with today’s near-zero emission natural gas trucks. The trucking companies have deployed 22 Class 8 drayage trucks—equipped with the Cummins Westport (CWI) near-zero ISX12N engine and fueled with Clean Energy Fuels Redeem brand renewable natural gas (RNG)—which achieve the lowest emissions of any heavy-duty truck operating in North America. They were deployed as part of a pilot program, with funding assistance from the California Energy Commission, the South Coast Air Quality Management District, and the two ports.

Near-zero Emission Commercially Available Technology

The CWI 2018 ISX12N engine is certified to the California Air Resources Board (ARB) and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Optional Low NOx emissions standard of 0.02 g/bhp-hr — 90 percent lower than current emissions standards. Along with CWI’s L9N and B6.7N, these engines continue the evolution of clean technology from CWI, offering ultra-low emission engines that can run on CNG, RNG or LNG. The engines are already being factory installed by reputable truck manufacturers with established sales and service networks, including Freightliner, Kenworth and Peterbilt.

Ultra-Clean Renewable Fuel

RNG is an ultra-clean and ultra-low-carbon natural gas alternative made from the methane that is captured when waste from food scraps, animal manure, sewage and other organic sources is broken down, captured and refined. RNG has the lowest carbon intensity rating of key transportation fuels when comparing the well-to-wheels greenhouse gas (GHGs) emissions of various fuels in heavy-duty trucking applications. Based on the California Air Resources Board’s carbon intensities, RNG can reduce GHG emissions by 40 to 125 percent or more, depending on the renewable feedstock used to produce it. In California, nearly all of the natural gas used for transportation fuel is produced from renewable feedstocks, which has enabled RNG producers to mitigate fugitive methane emissions and drive job creation.

An Immediate Solution to Achieve Clean Air Where It’s Needed Most

Combined, the Ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles are the nation’s largest goods movement hub, moving $450 billion dollars of cargo each year through Southern California to cities across the nation. While the ports are a major source of economic development in the region, they are also the leading source of harmful smog emissions—largely due to the tens of thousands of trucks driving to and from this complex each day. The 22 near-zero emission natural gas trucks—deployed by Total Transportation Services, Inc. (TTSI), 4Gen Logistics, Orange Avenue Express, CR&R, and Pacific 9 Transportation—are part of the ongoing landmark efforts by the ports to reduce goods movement emissions for the region. Back in 2006, the Ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles adopted the Clean Air Action Plan (CAAP), becoming the first seaport complex in the world to enact such a progressive and comprehensive program to reduce emissions from maritime goods-movement-related mobile sources – ships, trucks, trains, harbor craft (such as tugs and workboats), and cargo-handling equipment (such as cranes and yard tractors). In 2008, the ground-breaking Clean Trucks Program was launched, which initially banned pre-1989 trucks, and later followed by a progressive ban on all trucks that did not meet 2007 emission standards by 2012. Since the launch of the CAAP, these strategies have resulted in emission reductions exceeding 85% for particulate matter, 50% for nitrogen oxides, and 95% for sulfur oxides.

Updates were made to the CAAP in 2010 and 2017, with the Harbor Commissioners for both ports approving the 2017 updates earlier this summer. The 2017 update to the CAAP will begin the push for even cleaner standards for trucks and seek to phase out older trucks (effective Oct. 1, 2018, any trucks registering in the required Ports Drayage Truck Registry for the first time will be required to be a 2014 model year or newer), with a goal of transitioning to zero emission trucks by 2035.

The good news is that Southern California residents living in areas impacted by pollution from commercial vehicles don’t have to wait nearly two decades for clean air—and not surprisingly, they don’t want to. A survey reported by the Coalition for Clean Air (CCA) found impacted residents are in favor of immediately deploying today’s commercially available near-zero heavy-duty trucks to combat harmful emissions and will look to a zero-emission solution once it’s ready to deploy on a larger scale. Additionally, an overwhelming 90 percent of voters have no clear preference between near-zero trucks fueled by renewable natural gas (RNG) fuel, or trucks powered by zero-emissions electric vehicles.

The 22 near-zero RNG fueled drayage trucks successfully operating in the ports are supporting the CAAP goals and introducing a commercially available ultra-clean technology to the port drayage industry. “TTSI has now been testing the new CWI natural gas engines since last year and have found that they work terrifically,” said Vic LaRosa, President of TTSI, in May 2018. “We have run the trucks hard – in and out of the ports for long hours in all kinds of conditions – and have had no issues. TTSI is committed to going above and beyond what we can towards a more sustainable future and transitioning to renewable natural gas has made it easy.”

The participating trucking firms are leading by example, and are already inspiring many other fleets in the region to follow suite. Nearly 500 applications were submitted to the South Coast Air Quality Management district to fund near-zero emission trucks across all applications, many of which were port drayage trucks. Stay tuned for exciting announcements later this fall of which companies will be awarded funding to deploy even more near-zero emission trucks starting in early 2019.