Transportation, Clean Air Leaders from California and Multiple States Call for Federal Funding for Clean Ports in Infrastructure Package


SACRAMENTO – Transportation and clean air leaders of multiple states – including California, Colorado, Delaware, Hawaii, Louisiana, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Vermont, Washington, and the District of Colombia – urged support of federal funding for clean ports in a letter today to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

The signatories express support for President Joe Biden’s American Jobs Plan proposal to invest an additional $17 billion in coastal ports, inland waterways, land ports of entry, and ferries. The states also call out the need to invest in zero-emission infrastructure and equipment at our nation’s seaports in order to build a cleaner, better future and transform the system that moves the nation’s freight, especially as the economy recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Communities surrounding ports and freight corridors have long suffered from increased pollution and harmful emissions,” said California State Transportation Agency Secretary David S. Kim. “As part of Governor Gavin Newsom’s California Comeback plan, our state is making historic investments to support zero-emission technology at our ports and along freight corridors, and a strong federal partnership will further enhance those efforts. Working together, we can quickly develop a clean and modern port and freight system that strengthens our economy and communities.”

“Communities adjacent to our ports and beside truck-laden highways are among the hardest hit by toxic diesel pollution,” said California Air Resources Board Chair Liane Randolph. “California is investing billions of dollars to accelerate the necessary shift to zero-emission short-haul trucks and cargo-handling equipment, and much cleaner harbor craft. We call on the federal government to join us in this environmental justice challenge with infrastructure investments at our ports and along our trade corridors to support our efforts, and finally clean the air these communities breathe.”  

The letter notes that many states, including California, are making major investments in zero-emission freight equipment and infrastructure, and that sustained federal funding will increase the number of states committed to zero-emission transportation. Governor Newsom’s California Comeback Plan supports California’s ambitious efforts to tackle climate change head-on with a $3.9 billion package to accelerate our zero-emission vehicle (ZEV) goals, leading to cleaner air for future generations. This includes more than $1 billion to put 1,000 zero-emission drayage trucks, 1,000 zero-emission school buses and 1,000 transit buses, as well as the necessary infrastructure, on California roads. An additional $925 million will help drive consumer adoption of ZEVs, including funding to expand the Clean Cars 4 All incentive program for lower-income Californians. 


Text of the letter follows:


July 14, 2021

The Honorable Nancy Pelosi
United States House of Representatives
H-232, The Capitol
Washington, DC 20515


The Honorable Charles E. Schumer
Majority Leader
United States Senate
S-221, The Capitol
Washington, DC 20510


Dear Speaker Pelosi and Majority Leader Schumer:

As leaders of state transportation departments and advocates of clean air, we strongly support efforts to invest in green infrastructure.  We know that reducing harmful emissions from the transportation sector is critical to building a better future, and as the economy recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic, transforming the system that moves the nation’s freight is especially critical.  Heavy-duty vehicles and equipment used in the freight system are often highly polluting and expose communities to toxic diesel exhaust.

We support President Biden’s American Jobs Plan proposal to invest an additional $17 billion in coastal ports, inland waterways, land ports of entry, and ferries, which are all essential to our nation’s freight.  In particular, we strongly urge Congress to provide funding for mitigating the cumulative impacts of air pollution on neighborhoods near ports and the inland freight corridors and critical freight facilities that move goods across the country, often proximate to communities of color.

To provide one example, in California, about 30,000 heavy-duty trucks operate at the state’s seaports.  Communities near the seaports have higher cancer risk and high rates of asthma compared to the rest of California.  Across the nation, other communities near major ports face similar challenges.

We know we can do better.  Modern and clean ports and freight systems are key to American competitiveness, and investing in that future will create good jobs.  Federal funding to convert existing polluting vehicles and equipment to zero-emission and provide associated charging infrastructure would accelerate progress already underway.  For example, converting drayage fleets and similar equipment at freight hubs, as well as making corridor investments of zero-emission charging infrastructure, can accelerate the turnover of heavy-duty vehicles, lead to greenhouse gas reductions, and provide especially important air quality benefits for nearby communities.  Today, 19 zero-emission truck manufacturers are producing dozens of truck models – and they are in use now.  These zero-emission vehicles are providing benefits to nearby communities in the form of reduced emissions and jobs that support a 21st century economy.  Seaports and freight hubs are also developing greener infrastructure and can do even more with federal support.

Many states, including California, Colorado, Hawaii, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, and Washington, as well as the District of Columbia, are already making major investments in zero-emission freight equipment and infrastructure.  Other states have made progress in reducing their carbon emissions but need strong federal support to transition to zero-emission operations.  Sustained federal funding would greatly accelerate the roll-out and with Congress’ help, we can build on our successes and increase the number of states making commitments to zero-emission transportation.  We ask that federal funding recognize these efforts and structure support programs to focus on states making such commitments.




Liane M. Randolph
Chair, California Air Resources Board

David S. Kim
Secretary, California State Transportation Agency



Shoshana M. Lew
Executive Director, Colorado Department of Transportation

Jill Hunsaker Ryan
Executive Director, Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment



Angela D. Marconi, P.E.
Air Quality Division Director,
Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control


District of Columbia

Kelly Crawford
Associate Director, Air Quality Division,
District of Columbia Department of Energy and Environment



Jade T. Butay
Director, Hawaii Department of Transportation



Shawn D. Wilson, Ph.D.
Secretary, Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development


New Jersey

Francis C. Steitz
Director, Division of Air Quality,
New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection


New York

Christopher M. LaLone, P.E.
Director, Division of Air Resources,
New York State Department of Environmental Conservation

Ronald L. Epstein
Executive Deputy Commissioner and Chief Financial Officer,
New York State Department of Transportation



Ali Mirzakhalili
Air Quality Division Administrator,
Oregon Department of Environmental Quality



Heidi Hales, Ph.D.
Director, Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation, Air Quality & Climate Division

Michele Boomhower
Director, Policy, Vermont Agency of Transportation, Planning & Intermodal Development Division



Laura Watson
Director, Washington State Department of Ecology

Roger Millar, P.E., FASCE, FAICP
Secretary of Transportation, Washington State