The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, joined by the Coalition for Responsible Transportation and the Environmental Defense Fund, is launching a new initiative to reduce pollution from short-haul trucks that service the nation's ports.

The new EPA SmartWay initiative is to reduce diesel emissions from drayage trucks used in port facilities to haul freight from cargo ships (typically in intermodal containers) to nearby local distribution points. 

Many of the dray trucks today are older and produce more emissions than trucks used on highways, says EPA. Model year 1994 and older dray trucks emit approximately 60 times more fine particle, PM 2.5, emissions than model year 2007 and newer trucks. PM 2.5 is linked to premature deaths, heart attacks, childhood asthma and increased emergency room and hospital visits.

Under the SmartWay dray truck initiative, carriers sign an agreement with EPA to track and reduce PM 2.5 emissions by 50% and nitrogen oxides, NOx, emissions by 25% below the industry average over a three year period.

In addition, SmartWay dray shipper partners will commit to use the cleaner trucks to haul 75% or more of port freight. Charter shipper partners in the program include Best Buy, The Home Depot, Hewlett Packard, JC Penney, Lowe's, Nike, Target and Walmart. 

The American Trucking Associations enthusiastically supported the program.

"It is a very good reasonable program, an extension of what they have been doing in the broader longhaul trucking," said Curtis Whalen, executive director of ATA's Intermodal Motor Carriers Conference, adding that intermodal has been the fastest growing mode the past few years.

The SmartWay Drayage Program is based on the SmartWay Transport Partnership, a collaboration between U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and goods movement stakeholders, which provides a framework to assess transportation-related emissions and energy efficiency, and recognize superior environmental performance.