Port of Oakland moves toward zero emissions

California's ports are receiving $1.2 billion to invest in newer, cleaner technology. That includes the Port of Oakland.

A huge consortium of more than 200 private companies and government agencies, called ARCHES, convinced the federal government to use California ports for a wide array of projects fueled by ‘ultra clean’ hydrogen. 

Senator Alex Padilla and Congressional representative Barbara Lee toured the port to see the possibilities that $1.2 billion can fund.

"California got 17% of the federal grant money. That will greatly assist the Port of Oakland to take a big step, towards its goal of becoming a fossil-free, carbon-free seaport by using solar arrays," said Danny Wan, Port of Oakland Executive Director. "You're right, hydrogen opens up multiple opportunities for the port. For example, the production of this equipment into hydrogen equipment." 

Some of the biggest pieces of equipment that move the containers around, that are not very fuel efficient, will soon be powered by pure hydrogen. The exhaust: water vapor.

Oakland and other California ports got their share of a $7 billion federal program to set up hydrogen-fuel projects for ports, heavy-duty trucks and public transit. 

"Right here, we'll be able to reduce the emissions and decarbonize our economy, including heavy industry," said Senator Padilla. 

"Fossil free, green economy and, in fact, this is a major step in that direction," said Congresswoman Lee. 

For port neighbors, it will be a new era in fresher, healthier air. 

"We have high incidences of lung cancer, asthma; health impact that have occurred as a result of, unfortunately, fossil fuels," said Lee. 

For port workers, this could mean a better foothold on the future. "We know that a just transition to a green economy means and that means that we're gonna have workforce training opportunities here as a result of this project," said Lee.

Sen. Padilla touted this development as a courageous one for California's ambition for a clean future. 

"California being California, we're also bold in our ambition and in our vision. And, a big part of that is making sure we're also a significant, clean economy," said Padilla.

Beyond using hydrogen fuels for itself and visiting ships, it might even benefit manufacturing it here. "We're gonna be involved in the production and distribution of this kind of energy worldwide and region wide," said Wan.

With far less cost for emissions controls and clean up, it's a better way forward to actually achieve climate goals and grow the economy.