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Region 02


NEW YORK — Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released a new case study on the New York/New Jersey Harbor Deepening project, which highlights how coordination between federal, state, and local agencies led to lasting reductions in air pollution from marine vessels operating in one of America’s busiest waterways. As a result of this federal, state and local partnership, an estimated 2,000 tons of nitrogen oxide were prevented from polluting the air. Nitrogen oxide reacts with other chemicals in the air to form both particulate matter and ozone, which are harmful when inhaled due to effects on the respiratory system.

“Addressing air pollution at ports like the Port of New York and New Jersey is critical to protecting public health in the surrounding communities – especially those with environmental justice concerns – because poor air quality can aggravate respiratory diseases, particularly asthma,” said EPA acting Regional Administrator Walter Mugdan. “This case study shows how federal, state, and local agencies can effectively partner to find and implement solutions to reduce harmful air pollution at our ports.”   

The case study outlines how government agencies came together during the $2.1 billion channel deepening at the Port of New York and New Jersey to ensure Clean Air Act compliance while providing lasting clean air benefits. The multi-agency team, which included EPA, put together a strategy to offset the NOx emissions that generated from harbor deepening machinery with emissions reductions projects like upgrading old engines ferries and tugboats. They also developed a process for tracking emissions and implementing changes as needed over the 12-year-long project.

In total, project partners funded engine repowers and after treatment emissions controls on 36 tugs and ferries operating in the harbor. These cleaner engines offset all the emissions associated with dredging plus an additional 2,000 tons, or about the same as shutting down a local natural gas power plant for six years. The engine repowers proved very cost effective, coming in at just over $2,000 per ton of NOx reduced.

The multi-agency team is still active, and their process has been successfully applied to more than 10 additional projects. The model outlined in the case study can serve as an example for other large-scale projects to determine the proper tracking, analysis, and mitigation efforts needed to ensure regulatory compliance, expedient and cost-effective project implementation, and net environmental benefits beyond compliance.

Ports are critical for commerce, a keystone for economic growth, and play a significant role in the goods movement supply chain. Investing in clean port infrastructure and operations supports economic prosperity and reductions in emissions.  EPA’s Ports Initiative works to improve efficiency and reduce harmful air pollution at ports by advancing next-generation, clean technologies and practices, and collaboration among stakeholders including the port industry, communities, and all levels of government. To learn more about EPA’s Ports Initiative, please visit:

To review the case study, please visit:  

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Author: Editor
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