Opinion: Port of Hueneme keeps cargo moving in cleaner and greener ways
By Kristin Decas
In late 2021, the Port of Hueneme reported record-breaking numbers for trade coming in and out. Three months into 2022, that trend continues.
Even as the supply chain issues persist across the globe, the Port of Hueneme is ensuring our clients’ goods move as quickly and efficiently as possible. While we continue to see record-breaking trade, what you won’t see off the coast of Ventura County is a queue of cargo ships waiting to enter our port to offload or pick up goods. Thanks to our around-the-clock operations and strategic planning with our global partners, our customers do not have to wait for a place to dock.
Trade through the Port of Hueneme is responsible for 4% of Ventura County’s gross domestic product and provides employment for 6% of Ventura County’s workforce, with more than 20,000 direct and indirect jobs.
Our trade is up nearly 30% in January 2022 compared to January of last year, and our total exports are up 303%, and totaled $91.64 million cargo value that month. During the same month, our trade with South Korea, our top trading partner by value, increased more than 60% compared to last year
South Korea, Germany, United Kingdom, Japan, and Mexico are our top five trade partners by value of cargo shipped and account for 65% of total trade. By tonnage, the top five trade partners are Guatemala, Mexico, Costa Rica, South Korea and Peru.
This year, we have new customers like FedEx Logistics, taking advantage of smaller, charter vessels which allows them to build resiliency into their supply chain and import the personal protective equipment and retail store merchandise we all need. Ventura County and San Joaquin Valley exporters who need predictability for their perishable commodities such as grapes and citrus also use the Port of Hueneme.
Our efficient movement of goods is happening while we work toward California’s ambitious climate goals, including meeting the 2035 zero emission deadlines for drayage trucks. Our governing board, the Oxnard Harbor District Commission, unanimously approved a resolution last fall committing the port to a zero-emission future.
Claiming such a commitment would be an empty gesture unless you’re actually working to make it happen. We’ve been actively working with the Coalition for Clean Air, Breathe Southern California, and Zero Emissions Advisors to craft our blueprint plan for a zero-emissions Port future to help guide us and set rigorous yet attainable goals.
However, shifting to cleaner, green technology is nothing new for the Port of Hueneme. In 2014 our all-electric shoreside power systems went online. Container ships docking in our port are required to plug in and run off of clean power instead of diesel fuel.
Since 2008, we estimate a 96% decrease in sulfur oxides and an 77% reduction in harmful diesel particulate matter from implementing carbon-free projects like shore-power across the port. These include brand new zero-emission port tractors, and more clean electrical infrastructure to power the cargo cranes at the port.
New state-of-the-art green vessels from clients like Del Monte’s Valiant and Harvester are also paving the way for cleaner transport of goods. The air-cooled containers keep their cargo at specified temperatures, ensuring the produce on the ships arrives to us, and then on to customers, as fresh as possible.
In January, our new partnership with FedEx also allowed us to help alleviate shoreside and waterborne bottlenecking at the larger congested ports while generating benefits for our local economy and community.
You may have also heard about a proposed port project for a temporary 34-acre parking area in Oxnard. The proposed project is for a temporary vehicle storage lot strategically located on Hueneme Road, along the designated primary corridor from the port to Highway 101, on privately owned land that is zoned appropriately as light industrial.
This project, consistent with Gov. Gavin Newsom’s mandate requiring all new passenger vehicle sales to be zero-emission by 2035, is integral in supporting solutions to the ongoing global supply chain crisis. If approved, the project would decrease the number of diesel car carriers moving from the port through our neighborhoods. Instead, new clean cars, including electric cars, would be driven directly to the site with no trucking, thereby reducing diesel emissions.
We consider projects like Project 34 to help foster economic opportunity for our community, always with an environmental ethic and commitment to our community and neighbors.
• Kristin Decas is CEO and port director of the Port of Hueneme.