Governor seeks to address infrastructure shortcomings in new Executive Order

What’s Happening

On October 20th, 2021, Governor Gavin Newsom signed Executive Order N-19-21 to address infrastructure shortcomings resulting in supply chain bottlenecks. This executive order was in partnership with the Supply Chain Disruptions Task Force, established by the Biden-Harris administration, to strengthen California’s and the Nation’s supply chain. Governor Newsom makes a number of declarations in the order, including orders to the Department of Transportation and the California State Transportation Agency to identify freight routes to be granted an exemption to gross vehicle weight limits, and the California Labor and Workforce Development Agency to analyze opportunities to increase “education, career technical education, job training, and workforce development opportunities for port workers and other workers across the supply chain”. 

And the Governor doesn’t stop there: for longer-term impacts, the order states the Department of Finance and other state agencies will develop long-term proposals to increase port operations and movements of goods. These proposals are to be considered in the January 10th Governor’s Budget and can include, “transportation infrastructure improvements, electrification of the goods movement system from port to delivery, workforce development, and other actions to support goods movement.”

Our Take

California’s major ports, including the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, move approximately 35% of all containers in the US. These ports are served by heavily polluting ships, diesel freight and trucks, and are surrounded by disadvantaged communities of color.  Recent moves to operate the ports 24 hours per day, seven days per week have residents and air quality officials worried about worsening already dangerous levels of air pollution. However, the Governor’s action waiving the weight limit on certain routes may help reduce those impacts, by moving more products per truck.  Long-term, the Governor’s order calls for proposals to electrify freight and goods movement, which could significantly reduce air pollutants and emissions. However, the short-term impacts of increasing freight transportation remain significant equity and environmental justice issues.  UC Davis ITS researchers have identified solutions that could be implemented in short order, to help reduce dangerous emissions in our most vulnerable communities, including routing cargo in the most eco-friendly ways.

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