Car carrier stock photo

PICTURED: Ship built for carrying cars 

by Giles Pettifor and Adam Vega

When “We Make Cargo Move,” we take challenges and turn them into solutions which translate into $2.2 billion in trade-related activity supporting 20,032 local jobs, making the Port of Hueneme the fourth largest employer in Ventura County. As one of the most efficient trade gateways on the West Coast, our port is uniquely positioned as the only deep-water port between Los Angeles and San Francisco. Cargo is not stockpiling on dock and creating a backlog of idling diesel ships and trucks as seen at other ports along the coast. The depth of our harbor provides the necessary clearance for heavy cargo ships to offload important items from around the world to alleviate the global supply chain crisis, reduce congestion at other West Coast ports, and to get vital products into the hands of residents across Ventura County and the U.S. like food and medical equipment.  

Unlike other ports, The Port of Hueneme is governed by a board of five locally elected harbor commissioners whose mission is to provide the maximum possible economic and social benefits to our community by maximizing the potential of maritime-related commerce in our region. In November of 2021,  those commissioners unanimously approved a resolution committing the port to a future of zero emissions with specific dates, also initiating an in-depth study of our future operational energy needs. A year from now our study, done with community input in partnership with Breathe Southern California and the Coalition for Clean Air, will be complete and further guide the port into this future of decarbonization and position the port  as a regional leader of clean energy and a catalyst for new economic opportunities. 

While we do not own any of the trucks coming in or out of our gates, it is important to remember that many of our neighbors might. Most of these individuals take out large loans to purchase and maintain their existing diesel trucks. The port continues to work with these individuals every day to provide opportunities for them to receive access to the newest technologies, and incentive money from the state and federal governments to help them de-carbonize, succeed and grow with clean technology as their foundation for the future.  

We’ve long understood that the movement of goods “doesn’t have to poison our planet and relying on fossil fuels isn’t sustainable for the port or our planet” (Power to Speak: Port of Hueneme needs to play a role in creating a better future,” by Chris Sellgren, VCReporter, June 9, 2022). That’s why in 2012, our board adopted the Environmental Management Framework (EMF) which integrates clear principles and measurable goals of sustainability into day-to-day operations. The EMF and eco-programs it started not only guided the implementation of projects that keep our port in compliance with environmental regulations but helped move us to the cutting edge of eco-technology to protect our natural resources including air, water, beaches and marine life. For example, our shoreside power system allows refrigerated cargo ships to plug into clean grid power instead of burning diesel at the dock. Since 2014, this state-of-the-art system has reduced the diesel soot emissions from ships  by more than 80%. 

When the community asked the city of Oxnard to conduct a full environmental impact report (EIR) for a temporary use permit we requested for Green Project 34 at the empty lot adjacent to Perkins and Hueneme Road, we made it a priority to assure equitable access to the EIR, its contents, and the port’s plans to local residents, resource agencies and stakeholders. We make sure our doors are always open so that our community can easily connect with our team, management and harbor commissioners to engage in conversations and explore new opportunities for collaboration. It is this unique approach and attitude that serves as the basis for the port’s ability and commitment to successfully plan and operate activities on both sides of our gates in an equitable and transparent manner. 

Upon completion, the EIR concluded there would be no significant impacts to our local environment or community as this project was envisioned to reduce the use of diesel truck vehicle carriers; something our neighbors in the Southwinds community have requested. From an environmental perspective, this temporary project offers co-benefits to the port and community alike by creating an opportunity to envision what can take place after the port’s temporary use is complete. Our Community Outreach team continues to actively engage in conversations with all members of our Ventura County community and invites you to come visit us at the docks to take a tour and learn more!

Giles Pettifor is the Environmental Manager with The Port of Hueneme and leads the implementation of the port’s environmental programs. Adam Vega is the Community Outreach Specialist with The Port of Hueneme and a lifelong resident of Ventura County.POWER TO SPEAK |