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Green Flag Incentives to Improve Air Quality

December 30, 2005

The Port of Long Beach will begin a new $2.2 million-a-year clean air initiative, the Green Flag Incentive Program, on January 1, 2006. The program offers financial incentives and environmental awards for fleet operators who help improve air quality by voluntarily reducing vessel speeds when they enter or depart from the Port.  

"This is a major step in dealing with the air emissions from the ships," said Don Snyder, the Port’s Trade and Maritime Services Director. "We’ve had good compliance with our voluntary program, and by adding these financial incentives we expect to reach 100 percent compliance.”

About 65 percent of all vessels now comply with the Port’s voluntary speed reduction program, which has been in place since 2001. Port officials estimate that if all vessels comply with the program, the amount of smog-forming nitrogen oxides (NOx) produced by container ships would be reduced by nearly 550 tons a year.

Under the Green Flag program, vessels that observe a 12-knot speed limit within 20 miles of the Port during an entire year of voyages to and from Long Beach will be awarded a Green Flag to recognize their contributions to improved air quality. Ocean carriers, who operate the individual ships, will qualify for a 15 percent discounted Green Flag dockage rate during the following 12 months if 90 percent of their vessels comply with the 12-knot speed limit for a year. 

The Long Beach Board of Harbor Commissioners, which approved the program in October, 2005 will review the results in two years and determine whether to continue the Green Flag incentives.

The new Green Flag program provides incentives only to vessels calling at the Port of Long Beach (the 2001 Voluntary Vessel Speed Reduction Program includes the Long Beach and Los Angeles ports). The Marine Exchange of Southern California measures and records the speeds of every vessel in the speed reduction zone.

Green Flag was developed under the guidelines of the Port’s Green Port Policy, which calls in part for incentives to minimize or avoid the harmful environmental impacts of port operations.

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