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Vessel Speed Reduction Program (VSR)

Vessel Speed Reduction Map for Southern California

Vessel Speed Reduction Program (VSR)

Vessel Speed Reduction Map

The Vessel Speed Reduction Program is a voluntary strategy to reduce air pollutants and greenhouse gas emissions from cargo and cruise ships by reducing speeds in the vicinity of San Diego Bay. Studies show that reducing vessel speeds decreases air emissions which ultimately lead to better air quality.

The Port asks cargo vessel operators entering or leaving San Diego Bay to observe a 12-knot speed limit. For cruise ships, a 15-knot limit is requested. The Vessel Speed Reduction zone extends 20 nautical miles seaward from Point Loma.




Clean Air Program Overview

Air pollution from goods movement sources, such as ships, trucks, and trains, have recently come under heightened regulatory scrutiny by air agencies in California, especially the California Air Resources Board (ARB). There is no regulatory requirement for the San Diego Unified Port District (Port) to adopt a clean air plan, program, or strategy. Despite this, but consistent with its environmental program, in October 2006 the Board of Port Commissioners directed staff to develop a program to address air pollution from local port-related sources. The resulting Clean Air Program (the Program, or CAP) is a comprehensive program that provides a framework for the Port’s commitment to reducing air pollution at the three Port operated marine terminals: the Cruise Ship Terminal, Tenth Avenue Marine Terminal and National City Marine Terminal.

The CAP is being voluntarily developed by the Port and is designed to build on current and proposed control and goods movement strategies, customized for local port operations. It is a strategic program to identify local port-related emission sources and methods to control them beyond current regulatory programs, either through early implementation or greater penetration of control strategies.

The first step in the CAP process was to identify specific sources of air pollutants from Port operations. 

A Clean Air Program Draft Report was completed and presented to the Board of Port Commissioners on Tuesday, February 12, 2008. This document describes the goals of the Clean Air Program, the local and regional context in which the Clean Air Program is being developed, and the current regulatory environment. The Draft Report discusses the 2006 Emissions Inventory and its implications on the development of the Clean Air Program. Selected control measures, including the process by which these measures were evaluated and the framework for the continuation of this Program into 2008, also are presented.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Clean Air Program?

The Clean Air Program is a comprehensive program that provides a framework for the Port's commitment to reducing air emissions at the Cruise Ship Terminal, Tenth Avenue Marine Terminal and National City Marine Terminal. The 2007 Clean Air Program Report will identify control measures that can be implemented in the near-term and measures that are part of a long-term strategy to reduce air emissions, building upon regulatory and voluntary efforts.

What is the goal of the Clean Air Program?

The goal of the Clean Air Program is to voluntarily reduce air emissions from current Port operations in advance of regulatory action through the identification and evaluation of feasible and effective control measures for each category of Port operations.

What are control measures?

Control measures are structural and operational ways to reduce air emissions. For example, changing the type of fuel used by ocean going vessels is a control measure. Another example would be reducing the speed at which ocean going vessels travel, thus reducing air emissions.

When will the Clean Air Program be completed?

The Board of Port Commissioners is expected to review a draft program in December 2007 and provide direction to Port staff in early 2008. The Clean Air Program will continue to be refined as it moves into the implementation phase in 2008. The Clean Air Program also will be adapted to address air emissions from future changes in Port operations.

What is the Air Emissions Inventory?

In 2007, the Port commissioned an Air Emissions Inventory to identify the sources of air pollutants coming from Port operations. The Port decided voluntarily to conduct the inventory so it could have a baseline of data on which the Clean Air Program could be based. By identifying sources of air pollution, the inventory will help ensure the control measures in the Clean Air Program are effective in reducing air emissions from the areas of greatest concern.

How is the Clean Air Program being developed?

The Port hired a nationally known consultant, ENVIRON, that has worked with ports in Los Angeles, Long Beach, and Oakland on their clean air programs and has conducted port-related work at other ports across the U.S., including the Ports of San Francisco, New York/New Jersey, Houston-Galveston and Hawaii. A stakeholder work group has been formed to provide input into the program, and a draft program will be presented to the Board of Port Commissioners for approval.

Do other ports have clean air programs?

Yes, many ports have developed or are in the process of developing clean air plans, programs, and strategies. The Port and its consultants are familiar with other plans and can benefit from what has been done elsewhere. However, the Port of San Diego is different from other ports in size, type of cargo, and type of operations, and these differences need to be reflected in the Port of San Diego Clean Air Program.

What is the geographic scope of the Clean Air Program?

The measures set forth in the Clean Air Program may have regional as well as local benefits, but the primary focus of the program is the reduction of air emissions from Port operations at the three marine terminals.

How is the public being involved in the development of the Clean Air Program?

The stakeholder work group represents businesses, residents, labor unions, cities, regulators, environmental groups and other interested parties. Work group meetings are also open to any member of the general public who wishes to provide input. In addition, the public is invited to speak directly to the Board of Port Commissioners when it considers the draft program. Once the program is approved, an ongoing public involvement program will be developed to enable interested stakeholders to provide input as the program is implemented.

Will the Clean Air Program be integrated with the Maritime Business Plan?

The Clean Air Program will identify a clean air strategy that will be applied to all future changes to Port operations, including any that come about as part of the Maritime Business Plan. However, it should be noted that the Port's Maritime Business Plan is a marketing strategy that will guide how the Port could increase its cargo businesses. Actual increases or changes to the Port's maritime cargo business are highly dependent on market conditions and other factors. Once the Port decides to make a specific change in operations, such as increasing a certain kind of cargo or changing the configuration of a marine terminal, the Port will conduct the appropriate environmental review, including air emission control strategies identified in the Clean Air Program.

Will the Clean Air Program undergo an environmental review process?

The Clean Air Program sets forth measures that may be subject to review under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), either independently or as part of development projects.