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Jon Talton

Analysis and commentary on economic news, trends and issues, with an emphasis on Seattle and the Northwest.

May 4, 2009 at 10:15 AM

How green are our ports? Very, if you’re shipping from Asia to Midwest

Top of the News: The Port of Seattle this morning is announcing the results of a study on the carbon footprint for bringing containerized goods from Asia to the U.S. The “greenest” route to the Midwest is through the Ports of Seattle and Tacoma.

The study was commissioned by the Port of Seattle and conducted by California-based Herbert Engineering, a ship design, engineering and transportation consulting outfit. It analyzed carbon footprints of trade routes between Singapore, Hong Kong, and Shanghai, and the U.S. distribution hubs of Chicago, Columbus and Memphis. It also checked routes that use U.S. east and Gulf coast ports via the Panama and Suez canals.

West Coast ports in general have the lowest carbon footprint of the routes studied. Officials of the Puget Sound ports have been pushing to lower emissions and lessen environmental impacts.

Does this matter beyond marketing? Already, the port-rail intermodal connection takes trucks off the road, reducing pollution; the ports also have the infrastructure to lower fuel costs for shippers.

The benefit could grow if the world moves to some kind of cap-and-trade system. Also, some major companies like to tout their “green” credentials, so might be more likely to use “green gateway” ports. And some consumers make choices based on sustainability.

The Back Story: Commerce Secretary Gary Locke, the former Washington governor, gave a video interview to the Washington Post. He talks about the Chrysler bankruptcy filing, the “fragile” state of the world economy and the census.

Meanwhile, check this out if you want to see the potential economic and environmental advantages high-speed rail could offer major U.S. metros, including those of the Northwest. Imagine getting from Seattle to Portland in about an hour — that’s what the French are already achieving.

Today’s Econ Haiku:

Microsoft rumors

More layoffs? But keep steady

Don’t jump from Windows

Comments | More in Sustainability, Trade

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