Op-Ed by Terrance Bankston PEPNJ’s EJ Advisor

We can clean up our ports in New Jersey, New York and beyond. Here’s how

Terrance L. Bankston  Special to the USA TODAY Network

It’s no secret that ports are hotspots for local emissions and air pollution. For years, resources to address these issues have been insufficient or unfocused. Ports in Newark, Elizabeth and South Jersey struggle to address a legacy of environmental injustices while transitioning to a clean energy economy. Luckily, the Inflation Reduction Act provides an opportunity to increase protections for Environmental Justice communities with the recently launched $3 billion Clean Ports Program.

The Port of New York and New Jersey, the second busiest port in the nation, has found itself at a crossroads between crisis and opportunity. Unfortunately, the port’s leadership or approach to community engagement seemingly lacked ambition. For example, previous roadmaps that outline actions to achieve zero-emission port operations were not properly vetted by the communities most impacted. While the port has made well-intended attempts to engage the local communities through actions like port listening sessions, this has become a stale approach to community engagement and advancing environmental justice.