Plugging in container ships at the Port of Charleston could reduce air pollutant and greenhouse gas emissions by thousands of tons each year
WASHINGTON, D.C. —A study commissioned by Friends of the Earth finds that switching off vessel auxiliary engines at the dock and connecting to shoreside electrical power would eliminate hundreds of tons of toxic air emissions like smog-forming gases and soot. The research shows that nitrogen oxide emissions alone — which contribute to ground-level ozone, or smog – would be reduced by 98%, and carbon dioxide pollution would be cut by nearly 12,000 metric tons a year today, and by almost 19,000 metric tons annually by 2032.
The Biden administration has outlined a program to mitigate air pollution impacts on port-adjacent communities, and introduced federal legislation such as the Climate Smart Ports Act would provide substantial funding for green port infrastructure across the nation. We urge the South Carolina Ports Authority and its board, state and local elected officials, and other area policymakers to embrace container ship shore power and other Port-related air pollution mitigation measures, particularly in light of the opening of the Leatherman Terminal in North Charleston, the first new container terminal in the United States in over a decade.
John Kaltenstein, Deputy Director of Oceans and Vessels at Friends of the Earth, had this to say about the study:
Toxic pollutants from vessel emissions — which cause asthma, lung cancer, heart disease, and premature death — can negatively affect near-port neighborhoods in North Charleston and Mount Pleasant. Plugging container ships into shoreside electric power would lessen pollution burdens on near-port populations, including communities of color long subjected to environmental injustice, and significantly reduce emissions of climate-wrecking carbon dioxide.
Preventing the worst of the climate crisis and protecting nearby vulnerable populations requires doing away with ships wastefully burning dirty diesel at the dock for hours upon hours.