LOS ANGELES, Calif. /California Newswire/ — Delivering on his promise to reduce pollution at the Port of Los Angeles and protect public health, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa today marked a major milestone in the Clean Truck Program. The program required all trucks at the Port of Los Angeles to meet the toughest environmental standards in the nation by January 1, 2012.

“The Clean Truck Program has greened our port for the long haul and ensured Angelenos will breathe cleaner air for generations to come,” Mayor Villaraigosa said. “We have proven that we can increase economic and environmental sustainability at the same time. With $1.5 billion worth of investments in capital improvement projects over the next five years, we plan to keep the Port’s status as the nation’s premier trade gateway.”

Responding to the Mayor’s call for a comprehensive strategy for cutting port-related emissions, the Port of Los Angeles developed the Clean Truck Program – a plan to reduce pollution and offset public health risks from Port trucks. Through the program, the Port of Los Angeles offered incentives to purchase Clean Trucks while enacting a progressive truck ban with associated fees.

“The Port of Los Angeles, along with our industry partners, has made the business of moving cargo cleaner,” said Port Executive Director Geraldine Knatz, Ph.D., “The results speak for themselves, and we couldn’t be more proud of reaching this milestone.”

The Port exceeded the goal of reducing harmful emissions from trucks alone by at least 80 percent and did so ahead of schedule. Emission studies show that since 2005, emissions from trucks alone have been reduced dramatically, including a 92% reduction in sulfur oxides, an 89% reduction in diesel particulate matter, and a 77% reduction in nitrogen oxides– the primary pollutants associated with smog and asthma.

“The American Lung Association in California congratulates the City of Los Angeles for its continued efforts to reduce lung damaging pollutants in our air,” said Jane Warner, President and CEO of the American Lung Association in California. “Important efforts such as the Clean Trucks Program will, over time, protect millions of lives and save California much more than it ever will cost.”

Overall, the Port has reduced sulfur oxide emissions by 76%, diesel particulate matter by 69%, and nitrogen oxides by 50%. These numbers surpass the original goal to cut 45% of total Port emissions.

“Today we are celebrating a national model that has set the bar for what it takes to create healthy neighborhoods for port area residents while promoting a vital port economy.” said Patricia Castellanos, LAANE Deputy Director and Chair of the Coalition for Clean and Safe Ports. ”Above all we applaud the Villaraigosa administration for their commitment to the program’s long-term sustainability that promises the creation of good jobs and reduction of toxic diesel rig emissions for years to come.”

The plan has allowed the port to grow while ensuring that environmental impacts on our communities are reduced and the environmental benefits are sustained. The Port is continuing its greening efforts by fostering new green technologies, including a pilot program for a commercially feasible zero-emission truck.

“The Clean Truck Program provided a clear roadmap for forward-thinking businesses to compete without dirty trucks,” said David Petitt, Director of the Southern California Air Program for the Natural Resources Defense Council, “Its success represents a major step towards our climate and clean air goals, bringing relief to millions of Californians whose health has been negatively affected by diesel truck pollution.”

The Port of Los Angeles is the leading destination for imports from Asia, the nation’s number one port center based on trade volume and the number one customs district. Upcoming projects will expand capacity and opportunities for exporters to grow their operations with manufacturing space and increased movement of goods.

For example, the Port’s main channel deepening project will allow the world’s largest ships to call at all of the Port’s terminals. The China Shipping terminal is doubling in size to include 142 acres as well as an additional 2,500 feet of wharf space. Additionally, three new roadway and rail infrastructure improvement projects amount to more than $250 million in investments that will make it easier for goods to get to market.

More than 43,000 direct jobs are connected to marine terminal operations at the Port, and it is estimated that every $1 billion in exports creates 5,500 jobs in LA. That is why growing the Port is an integral part of the Mayor’s five point plan to create jobs in LA. The five points are: (1) reforming its business tax; (2) reducing red tape; (3) partnering for economic growth; (4) modernizing LAX and improving the Port of Los Angeles; and (5) building a 21st century transportation network.