LOS ANGELES — The air pollution control agency for Southern California announced a seven-point action plan to cut emissions from vessels, marine terminals, trains and trucks at the nation’s largest port complex.

The South Coast Air Quality Management District’s initiative begins with a pledge to work with the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach to reduce emissions. If the public-private partnership fails to develop enforceable measures, the AQMD will impose regulations on the goods movement industry and will seek legislation for a per-container fee or similar funding source for environmental initiatives.

“Reducing air pollution at the ports is the single most important challenge facing us as we work to achieve healthful air quality in the Southland,” said AQMD Chairman William A. Burke as he announced the agency’s Clean Port Initiative.

The two ports and the goods movement industry produce 100 tons of smog and particulate-forming nitrogen oxides, which is more than the daily emissions from the 6 million cars in Southern California. The port complex is the largest fixed source of air pollution in the
Los Angeles Basin.

Port-generated emissions are virtually unregulated compared to other sources of pollution, the AQMD stated. For example, existing regulations require a 97 to 98 percent reduction in emissions from off-road engines and on-road heavy-duty truck engines, but regulations for ocean vessels, the largest source of pollution at the ports, call for only a 6 percent reduction of nitrogen oxides.

Burke’s action plan calls for a summit with port officials to develop and implement fast-track measures for reducing emissions. If an acceptable plan is not developed immediately, the AQMD will use it authority to impose regulations. The ACMD next year will begin issuing monthly reports to the public discussing environmental reports and other documents relating to goods movement.

ACMD and the ports will conduct air quality monitoring within the ports and outside of the ports’ boundaries. The agency will ask the federal Environmental Protection Agency to adopt emission standards for ocean vessels, and if EPA fails to do so, AQMD will work with California’s congressional delegation to sponsor a bill forcing EPA to take aggressive action.

AQMD also plans to work with the busiest ports in Asia to develop a proposal for joint emission reductions. Finally, AQMD in 2006 will ask the California Legislature to adopt a per-container fee or similar mechanism to fund pollution reduction measures at the ports.

While existing measures for cars and other non-port sources of pollution will force a reduction in future emissions, a projected threefold increase in cargo volumes will result in a 40-percent increase in nitrogen oxide emissions at the ports by 2025 if stricter standards are not developed, AQMD stated.