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Environmental Justice Primer for Ports: How Are Ports Engaging Communities?

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Photo of container portPolicies, programs, initiatives, partnerships and agreements

The following examples represent a variety of ways that ports have engaged with near-port communities:

Port of Oakland, California

The Social Responsibility Division “aims to facilitate inclusion, fairness, equity, as well as access to economic opportunities, programs, and services of the port for the people and businesses in the Port community.” The port supports this goal through proactive community relations and community engagement programs and community-positive policies, including the Commitment to Accountability & Transparency and Powering Jobs, Empowering Communities.

Port of Bellingham, Washington

The port’s mission is based on its commitment to “work cooperatively with other entities, within the framework of community standards.“

The port has an extensive community outreach program as well as cross-sector projects such as Waterfront District Redevelopment with the city. Public involvement is highly regarded, and the port incorporates varied views while making difficult decisions, such as through the Community and Environment program that links community and environmental health.

Port of Baltimore, Maryland Port Administration, Maryland

The port is “committed to being a good neighbor” and meet its obligations for “improved air and water quality, reduction of impacts to the Patapsco River and the Chesapeake Bay, and sound environmental management.”

The MPA Environmental Strategy 2015 (PDF) (4 pp, 2 MB, About PDF) forms the basis of the Greenport  program that includes mitigation projects under environment, port operations and community.

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Port Authority of New York and New Jersey

In alignment with its commitment to “safeguarding the land, water, air, natural resources, flora, fauna people and their interrelation,” the port’s Government and Community Relations Department manages programs, partnerships and federal initiatives, and the port undertakes several environmental initiatives and environmental stewardship programs focused on clean air, harbor restoration and shoreline stabilization.

Port of Seattle, Washington

The port offers boat tours of area waterways to help people understand its mission, operations and environmental initiatives. The boat tours, since 2017 after the port’s participation in EPA’s Environmental Justice Capacity Building Project, are designed for English, Spanish, Cambodian and Vietnamese speakers and feature information presented in plain language with technical details available if desired. Additionally, the port has recently created an Equity Department, and the Duwamish Valley Community Equity Program

Port of Portland, Oregon

The port’s comprehensive Environmental Policy (PDF) (1 pg, 41 K) combines natural resource, community and stakeholder relations, performance monitoring and evaluation requirements.  

The port’s environmental efforts focus on air quality, energy management, land quality, natural and water resources. They also have several community engagement advisory committee activities.

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Port of Houston Authority

The Port Authority is the first U.S. port to attain the world standard for environmental excellence, ISO 14001. In 2017, the port adopted an environmental policy to: protect and preserve the natural environment including complying with laws and regulations, conduct business to prevent pollution and sustainability, engage with stakeholders, be a leader in environmental stewardship, and continually improve environmental performance.

The port approved a community engagement plan (PDF) (5 pp, 288 K) in 2015 that provides a framework for effectively engaging and support communities while efficiently leveraging and optimally utilizing resources.

Port of Los Angeles, California

The port-wide Project Labor Agreement (PLA) (PDF) (63 pp, 8.6 MB) is a ten-year agreement between the harbor and local building and trade unions to address unemployment and underemployment in neighborhoods near the Port of Los Angeles and seeks to advance the skills of local workers.

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