The East Yard Communities for Environmental Justice organization puts on a yearly bike tour through Long Beach to raise awareness about the air pollution in local neighborhoods from locomotives, transport trucks, loading/unloading equipment and ships. Kevin Shin, cofounder of Walk Bike Long Beach, notes, “By walking and biking, people develop a greater appreciation for the impact that toxic infrastructure has on them and their neighbors.”
Tour leader, Jan Victor Andasan, who grew up in West Long Beach and has asthma, felt some lung tightness during some parts of the ride. While exploring the area, they also had to share the roads with a steady stream of trucks, which Andasan pointed out were “not running on zero-emission technology.”
A decade ago, the thought of heavy-duty zero-emission equipment was only a dream, but today it is a reality. In 2015, the California Collaborative Advanced Technology Drayage Truck Demonstration Project began to deploy 44 zero-emission battery electric and plug-in hybrid drayage trucks at major California ports. It brought together major manufacturers, including BYD, Kenworth, Peterbilt and Volvo. This demonstration project forged the way for the Zero- and Near Zero-Emission Freight Facilities (ZANZEFF) program, a sub-program under the California Air Resources Board’s Low Carbon Transportation Program, which has eleven different projects throughout the state and more than $400 million invested.
For one of these projects, the Port of Long Beach received a $50 million award in 2018 and project partners will match with another $52.9 million. Across this and other projects in Oakland and Stockton, ZANZEFF will deploy 38 electric yard trucks, 9 electric gantry cranes, 18 electric heavy lift forklifts, and 15 zero-emission Class 8 trucks. The program is also including a workforce development component with curriculum being developed to support the deployment of this technology with local school districts near the three port locations, community colleges and Long Beach State University.
“I applaud the California Air Resources Board for its vision and commitment to helping disadvantaged communities in California improve their air quality by fostering innovative clean technologies,” said Senator Connie M. Leyva (D-Chino). “These significant investments show that California businesses can thrive while helping to further our efforts to clean the air of our state’s most impacted communities. I look forward to witnessing firsthand the benefits that these projects will bring to the 20th State Senate District and the Inland Empire.”
Locals hope that in the future there will no longer be a need for a bike tour to raise awareness about the air pollution, but rather about how clean the air is at the ports and railyards.