Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Shore Power is Finally Operational and In Use at Brooklyn Cruise Terminal (UPDATE: Maybe Not! See Jan. 2018 Post)

The photo from first blog post in April 2009.
My two kids are on bikes, second from left and second from right.
They are now 13 and 19.
You might have read articles in the local media and elsewhere regarding the press release (here) from the New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) stating that 'shore power' is finally operational and in use at the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal. As readers of this blog know, shore power is a technology that lets ships "plug in" to the electricity grid while in port, allowing them to turn off their dirty diesel engines (this is called 'cold ironing'), rather than idling 24/7, as they have been. This is the first shore power berth on the entire U.S. East Coast.

Thanks to those of you who have sent me messages of congratulations for my part in raising awareness and advocating for this technology. I've been working for this result for over a decade since the Cruise Terminal opened at the bottom of our residential street in Red Hook. In April, 2009 - in an effort to further advocate for shore power and raise awareness of port and shipping pollution related issues in Red Hook, NYC and beyond - I started this blog, "A View From The Hook". In 2012, Friends of the Earth named me as one of their "Faces of Change" for these efforts. I was one of 7 individuals or organizations recognized that year for their environmental activism.

So this is a great achievement, right? Unfortunately, despite the press release stating that the use of this technology will “eliminate 1,500 tons of carbon dioxide, 95 tons of nitrous oxide, and 6.5 tons of particulate matter annually" (and that the) "health benefits associated with improved air quality will generate approximately $99 million in cumulative savings over 15 years”, there is no event planned to celebrate shore power coming on line in Red Hook,

I guess the Port Authority and the NYCEDC don't want to make too big a deal of this technology and its health and environmental benefits, because if more residents knew, they would be demanding (as I have here and elsewhere) that shore power be used throughout our city and region's ports, for all types of large oceangoing ships - cruise and container ships too, which also idle in port, burning dirty diesel, emitting dangerous and climate change-inducing emissions. The truth is that ports on the West Coast - including the two largest in the U.S., the Ports of Long Beach and L.A. - have been building shore power infrastructure for a decade for cruise and container ships, as well as implementing other port pollution reduction measures, such as clean truck programs. In comparison, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey have been laggards when it comes to reducing port pollution at our nation's third largest port complex.

On a personal note, it would have also been nice for the EDC and the Port Authority to acknowledge my efforts - a decade worth of activism and advocacy for no personal gain - which was often lonely, thankless work, with no-one seemingly interested in the beginning. From the time I started writing letters to the City and to my neighbors about this issue in 2005, it was many years of research, writing, blogging, shouting into the abyss, going to meetings, and slowly building community awareness. I was joined by a few others who were on-board early with this fight who should also be acknowledged. My old friend, Diana Schneider, from Columbia Street Waterfront District, who for many years had been going to local meetings, demanding action on port pollution. Sherri Harden, from the Red Hook Initiative, who has been an early and staunch advocate for shore power at the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal and the health benefits it would bring to our already pollution-burdened community. Finally, when progress was stalling, our representatives started to really get on board and demand this technology be put into use at the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal. That made a difference. I think people in power finally realized that this plan was a "no-brainer" and that the health and environmental benefits (as is now stated in the EDC's press release) would be pretty impressive.

To reiterate:

The use of shore power by cruise ships at the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal (will) … “eliminate 1,500 tons of carbon dioxide, 95 tons of nitrous oxide, and 6.5 tons of particulate matter annually. The health benefits associated with improved air quality will generate approximately $99 million in cumulative savings over 15 years.”

It's a disappointment that those (including our representatives) whose efforts ultimately helped to bring these benefits to our neighborhood and beyond aren't being recognized as part of an event marking this achievement - the much anticipated use of shore power use at the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal. Wouldn't the fact this technology has finally come on line be something that should be celebrated, as happened in San Diego in 2010 when the "switch was flipped" on their shore power infrastructure? I guess not.

That absence of celebration and acknowledgment makes this victory a little less sweet.

Follow me on Twitter: @ViewFromTheHook

Friday, April 22, 2016

Shore Power Update & Please follow "A View From The Hook" on Twitter @ViewFromTheHook

Hi folks,

As you can see, this blog has been dormant for a while. I'm not shutting it down. You never know when important information might need to be shared in detail - using more than 140 characters! But for now, there won't be many updates here.

Which leads me to remind you, much of the information I have been sharing and news on matters that have been covered in this blog since 2009, I also share via Twitter. Many of the articles and writings I "tweet" pertain to the important issues impacting our New York City neighborhood of Red Hook, Brooklyn, and beyond - shipping & port pollution, resilience, transportation, waterfront issues, development, climate.

So, if you're interested, please follow @viewfromthehook


I guess I should also update you on one of the issues that really kicked off this blog - the cruise ships that idle at the edge of our waterfront neighborhood, spewing dirty diesel emissions into our air and into our kids lungs while they're in port. Well, they're still idling!

Despite the "shore power" infrastructure we all fought long and hard for being ready, according to the NYC Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC), and the ships that visit the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal also ready, retrofitted and able to accept the electricity so they can turn off their dirty diesel engines while in port, the latest information is that the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (PANYNJ) has not fully tested and certified the shore power equipment so that the ships can finally plug in.

In September, 2015, we were told that this "testing" was going to take place asap. We had previously been told that the shore power infrastructure would be ready for the 2015 cruise season. And now it's April, the 2016 cruise season is upon us, and we're still waiting.

This is just unacceptable.

It was the PANYNJ that presented information to the Public Service Commission in January, 2010, stating that plugging in cruise ships to shore power at the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal, allowing the ships to turn off their engines while in port, would save Brooklyn residents a monetized amount approaching $9 Million per year in health costs. $9M per year!

We have been waiting a decade - since 2006 when the terminal was built - for the Port Authority to do the right thing at the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal. It's been 10 years of kids in Red Hook and beyond breathing in Particulate Matter (2.5), which has been linked to more and more harmful health effects, especially to children. Asthma, heart disease, cancer, autism, premature birth, and the list goes on. There have also been recent studies showing that when ships use low sulphur diesel (even though this "clean" diesel is still 1000s of times dirtier than the type trucks can legally use), the burning of that diesel actually creates more of this harmful Particulate Matter. So "clean diesel" is no solution at all. It's also been 10 years of the ships at the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal spewing climate change inducing CO2, NOx, SOx, Black Carbon, etc., and burning hundreds of gallons of fossil-fuel diesel per hour - continuously while in port!

I don't know why the Port Authority has such a cavalier attitude towards portside communities and their quality of life, especially neighborhoods like Red Hook which has high rates of asthma and many environmentally impacted residents. Is the health of our kids not important enough for those in charge at the Port Authority to get this shore power infrastructure up and running - asap? The fact is, over the last decade the Port Authority has not been in a rush to implement green port practices. Even when the Brooklyn shore power system does get up and running, it will be the first such berth in the whole of the Ports of New York and New Jersey. Every single other ship in this great port city will be idling in port, burning dirty diesel, warming the planet and spewing all these harmful toxins into the air and into portside communities. While the largest ports in the U.S. on the West Coast have moved aggressively forward with shore power (for cruise and container ships), clean trucks programs, and other green port practices, here on the East Coast - at the Ports of NY and NJ, the third largest port complex in the country - we've been stuck in neutral, still idling.

The Port Authority really needs to start doing the right thing - by our kids and by the planet.

How about starting with getting the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal shore power up and running - like yesterday?

NOTE: If you are interested in issues pertaining to clean ports, shipping and transportation, please do follow Moving Forward Network. They have been doing great work on these matters and have an ongoing campaign to reduce the dependence on diesel in our transportation and goods movement sector. It's called #ZeroEmissionsNow

Follow Moving Forward Network on Twitter: @The_MFN

- AA