Monday, July 2, 2012

Port Authority's Press Release on Brooklyn Cruise Terminal Shore Power Plan

 I thought I'd post the Port Authority's press release regarding the approval of the shore power plan for the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal. It seems like the situation with the shortfall in funds  - the sticking point in making this plan a reality - was resolved by the Empire State Development Corporation, which shifted some funds from the New York ports dredging commitment to the shore power plan.

The press release also states that Governor Cuomo had a hand in making this all work, and if that means that he is aware of the importance of investment in this sort of life-saving and environmentaly friendly technology to our city, its ports and our residents, that's a very good thing.

Given the Port Authority's initial reluctance to make up the shortfall in getting the shore power plan up and running, it was pleasing to read Port Authority Executive Director Pat Foye's statement saying that “The return on our investment in this project will be measured in the tons of toxins removed from the environment, cleaner air and better health for Brooklyn residents who live in the neighborhoods near the terminal.”

He goes further, stating, "The Port Authority has a long-standing and unwavering commitment to safeguarding the environment in the communities that host our facilities and across the bi-state region we serve."

Well, in reality, the Port Authority has been pretty slow in acknowledging the negative environmental and health impacts that the activities of the ports have our city's residents - especially our most vulnerable. In one of the meetings that I attended, convened by the City Council's Committee on Waterfronts, under the heading "Greening New York City's Working Waterfront", the Port Authority spokesperson, Richard Larrabee, went out of his way to understate and minimize the pollution impacts that the activities of our city's ports create. In my post covering that meeting, (here), and in testimony I made to that committee, I tried to set the record straight. Here's what I stated -

"The facts are, according to the Environmental Defense Fund (via this article from John Kaltenstein, Friends of the Earth) the yearly operations of the Ports of NY and NJ (Ed Note - i.e. the ships visiting the ports) create as much pollution as 7.8 million cars. That's 7,000+ tons of NOx (nitrogen oxides), nearly 5,000 tons of SO2 (sulfur dioxide) and 600 tons of Particulate Mater (PM)."

"Ships create 91% of the SO2, 47% of the NOx, and 62% of the particulates the operations of the port produces - that's information from the Port Authority. Trucks that service the ports also contribute significant percentages of these substances, with 25% of the NOx, 12% of PM and 37% of CO2."

It was clear, at that time, that the Port Authority was hardly coming clean on this stuff. My point was that until the Port Authority acknowledged the contribution that the activities of their ports had in creating this dangerous pollution, how could they ever meaningfully address it?

And they have been slow to do anything in the way of shore power - Brooklyn will be the first - and even in getting a comprehensive "clean truck" program up and running, we're dawdling. The truth is that this city and its agencies are way behind their West Coast counterparts on "green port" matters.

Even regarding this shore power plan for the cruise ships visiting the Brooklyn Terminal, when the Port Authority came to our community in 2009 and told us that they were going to get this plan up and running - after years of community activism calling for this life saving technology to be used at the new "state of the art" terminal in Red Hook - the PA spokesperson, when asked, said that he'd only know about shore power for "a couple of years". Now, this is a technology that has been used by the US Navy for over 50 years, has been increasingly implemented on the West Coast after its first use more than a decade ago, and has been available in many other countries around the world. For someone representing an entity called the Port Authority to make this statement was astounding to me.

Anyway - all of that history aside - these statements from Mr. Foye are pleasing and seem to show increased acknowledgement of the impacts of port pollution on our residents and of the Port Authority's responsibility to address and reduce those negative health impacts. As I've said many times, this Brooklyn plan should be the first step in implementing this type of life saving technology throughout our ports. We have the 3rd largest port complex in the country, outside of Long Beach and Los Angeles. In those West Coast ports, much has been done with these technologies, with all types of ships - cruise, container, etc. They've seen the value in it. The Mayor of Long Beach, Bob Foster, stated that plugging a large container ship in to shore-power "takes enough pollution out of the air to equal 33,000 cars”. That's a huge reduction in carcinogenic and asthma inducing emissions, not to mention green house gases.

So, there's still lots to be done here, in New York.

Perhaps the recent statements from the Port Authority acknowledge that.

If so, hopefully the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal will be the first of many, similar shore power berths around our city.

One thing's for sure - this is a good start.

Here is the Port Authority press release -

 June 28, 2012


Board authorizes funds to pay unique first-of-its-kind environmental project

Construction of the East Coast’s first shore power port facility will move forward toward a 2014 completion following today’s action by the Port Authority’s Board of Commissioners. The project will create 30 jobs and result in $22 million in economic activity.

At its monthly meeting, the Board authorized additional funds provided by the Empire State Development Corporation needed to complete the $19.3 million shore power port facility. The project will allow cruise ships serving the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal to plug in to a more environmentally friendly electrical landside power source rather than operating on their diesel generated power while at the dock.

“The cruise industry is a vital contributor to the region’s economy, and today’s action will ensure it continues to drive job growth and economic activity,” said Port Authority Vice Chairman Scott Rechler. “Today’s action makes good economic sense, is good for the environment and will help make the port more competitive.”

“The Port Authority has a long-standing and unwavering commitment to safeguarding the environment in the communities that host our facilities and across the bi-state region we serve,” said Port Authority Executive Director Pat Foye. “I want to thank Governor Cuomo for his leadership on this issue, which will create jobs and sustain the long term viability of the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal. The return on our investment in this project will be measured in the tons of toxins removed from the environment, cleaner air and better health for Brooklyn residents who live in the neighborhoods near the terminal.”

“Shore Power will help Brooklyn breath a little easier while maintaining the competitiveness of one of its greatest assets, the working waterfront,” said Kenneth Adams, President & CEO, Empire State Development. “Under Governor Cuomo’s leadership, we look forward to continuing to work with our partners at the Port Authority to strengthen the economy of the harbor while ensuring a cleaner environment.”

“Shore powers means Brooklyn will be able to breathe a little easier. The implementation of our agreement gets us closer to ending the dirty and dangerous fumes spewed by idling cruise ships at the Red Hook port - and that’s good news for Brooklynites and for our environment,” said Senator Daniel Squadron. “Thank you to the Port Authority, Empire State Development and all of our colleagues and partners who made today’s great news possible.”

Ships serving the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal are typically in port for up to 11 hours loading and unloading passengers and supplies. While docked, the ship’s power is supplied by auxiliary engines on board the vessel, which are typically powered by high sulfur diesel fuel. The use of shore power will allow two ships calling on the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal - Queen Mary 2, and Caribbean Princess - to connect to an electrical grid on the dock and turn off their engines. The environmental benefits include an annual reduction of 1,500 tons of carbon dioxide, 95 tons of nitrous oxide, and 6.5 tons of particulate matter.

Funding for the project includes $12.1 million from the Port Authority, a $2.9 million grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. On Tuesday, the Empire State Development Corporation voted to allocate $4.3 million from the Port Authority’s Bistate Dredging commitment to New York State to the shore power project. In addition, Princess and Cunard will spend up to $4 million to retrofit its ships. The New York Power Authority will supply electricity to the cruise lines at a fixed and discounted rate for a period of five years, which is valued at roughly $2 million per year.

The Brooklyn Cruise Terminal is owned by the Port Authority and managed by the New York City Economic Development Corporation.

CONTACT: Port Authority of New York and New Jersey Steve Coleman, 212 435-7777