Green Ports, Green Jobs
March 27-April 2, 2009
Philadelphia Business Journal
Green Ports, Green Jobs
Stimulus money should fund port greening efforts that creates jobs, benefit the environmental health of the region, and stimulate the economy, says Philadelphia-based organization The Clean Air Council.
Soon, federal agencies will be deciding how to distribute the $787 billion stimulus package, and industries across all sectors of the economy are vying for a piece of the pie. President Obama's plan intends to harmonize economic growth and environmental stewardship, and greening America's seaports would be a crucial step toward a new green economy. Ports are vital to thriving global and regional economies, yet as trade volumes shrink, the recession is taking its toll. An unlikely consensus of politicians, economists, labor organizers, businesses, and environmentalists are pointing to the emerging green economy as a way out of the present economic quagmire. Ports can improve efficiency, cut back on expenditures and generate new, green jobs by implementing environmentally friendly technologies.
The American worker stands only to gain from port greening efforts. Energy efficiency makes ports more cost competitive, and many environmental improvements also protect worker's health by reducing exposure to pollutants and preventing accidental spills. Fortunately, some funds were built into the stimulus package to help with the transition to sustainable ports. For instance, short-haul truck drivers, many of whom are independent contractors that make minimum wage or less, could access government funds to pay for new, clean trucks and diesel retrofits, both of which have significant life-cycle savings. Greening the ports also creates jobs in the larger manufacturing sector. Manufacturing accounts for 12 percent of the nation's GDP and Pennsylvania already has just under 2,200 existing manufacturing firms that could help create the components for renewable energy and sustainable business enterprises. There exists a whole range of new and innovative green technologies that could reduce the ports environmental footprint, like hybrid trucks, eco-friendly cranes, shore-side plug ins, and alternative fuels, to name a few. Public investment in green ports ensures that port authorities and terminal operators are not shouldering the entire burden of reducing the impact of global trade on our environment. Private companies, like big box retailers, can also do their part to support greening efforts either by internalizing the environmental costs of shipping or by incentivizing efforts at ports by prioritizing those who act early and voluntarily to show exceptional environmental stewardship. Working together, private and public sectors should invest now in port greening efforts to create union jobs, revive the manufacturing sector and the overall economy, and do their part to combat air pollution issues such as childhood asthma and climate change.
Clean Air Council