New Report Shows How California’s Freight System Can Achieve Sustainability Goals

Berkeley Law report stems from two-day discussion with state regulators, industry and environmental groups

California’s freight system is massive. Nearly 1/3 of all jobs in the state are in freight-related fields, and nearly 40% of all cargo moved throughout the United States enters or originates in California. The state’s seaports, airports, international border crossings and thousands of miles of rails and roads are integral to not just the state but the local, national and international economies. However, the ships, trains, trucks and equipment that move goods throughout California are also responsible for up to 50% of the most harmful air pollutant emissions and 6% of greenhouse gas emissions statewide.

In response to environmental and public health concerns, Berkeley Law’s Center for Law, Energy and the Environment (CLEE) is today releasing a report that details key barriers and priority solutions to making freight more sustainable. The report stems from a CLEE-convened discussion last July with a group of state regulators, industry leaders and environmental advocates. The group discussed how to achieve the state’s sustainable freight vision.

CLEE is also hosting a webinar at 10 am Pacific today with three freight system experts who will discuss the report’s key findings.

Among the top barriers the group identified were the need to:

  1. Increase local community buy-in for new freight-related infrastructure projects and new technologies;
  2. Construct more infrastructure supporting smart goods movement; and
  3. Facilitate sharing of data among industry members and regulators.

The report discusses a broad range of near-term and long-term solutions to these challenges, including recommendations for state leaders, industry participants and community groups. Such actions include:

  • Transportation corridor management strategies, such as new vehicle charging stations, freight-dedicated highway lanes and dynamic lane management to facilitate deployment of efficient technologies like heavy-duty truck electrification and platooning;
  • Public-private information sharing platforms that encourage member organizations to share and analyze common efficiency-related data while protecting valuable IP, which could inform comprehensive “sliver” pilot programs to track each good’s path from production to consumption and identify efficiency opportunities throughout the supply chain; and
  • Expansion of workforce development initiatives, and high school and college supply chain management and logistics programs, to ensure that freight projects are linked to local economies.

Ultimately, developing the state’s future sustainable freight system will depend on sustained efforts by all stakeholders to increase community involvement and support, embrace and effectively regulate emerging technologies, fund and build supportive infrastructure, and collect and disseminate more data. An integrated, collaborative planning and policymaking process, discussed in detail in the report, will be essential to the success of these efforts.

The full report, which is available here, includes a complete discussion of these concepts and more solutions proposed by the expert group.

CLEE’s free webinar, starting at 10 am Pacific today, can be accessed here. Elizabeth Fretheim of Walmart, Adrian Martinez of Earthjustice, and Chris Schmidt of Caltrans will be joining Ethan Elkind to share their perspectives on the report’s key findings and the future of sustainable freight. Please join us!

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