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EPA Seeks Comment on IRA Clean Ports Program

January 3, 2023

Among its many provisions, the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) includes $3 billion for the purchase or installation of zero-emission port equipment or technology located at U.S. ports or used to directly serve U.S. ports. Of that funding, $750 million is reserved for ports located in a Clean Air Act non-attainment area. For the past two months, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has held listening sessions with stakeholders in advance of issuing guidance on the program’s administration, and the agency is now soliciting responses by January 18, 2023, to a Request for Information that poses 8 key questions for stakeholders.


The Inflation Reduction Act identifies four categories of participants eligible for funding under the Clean Ports program: (i) port authorities; (ii) States, regions, localities, or Tribal agencies with jurisdiction over a port authority or port; (iii) air pollution control agencies; and (iv) “private entities that apply for a grant in partnership with one of the above entities and who own, operate, or use facilities, cargo-handling equipment, transportation, or related technology of a port.” Put another way, private companies must partner with an existing port authority or entity with jurisdiction over a port to be eligible for funding.

The IRA also limits the technology and equipment that is eligible for funding to “human-operated equipment or human-maintained technology” that is located at, or directly serves, one or more ports. By statute, eligible technology and equipment must either produce zero emissions of certain pollutants, including greenhouse gas emissions, or capture 100% of emissions that are produced by ocean-going vessels at berth.

Responding to the Request for Information

The Request for Information presents an opportunity for companies to shape the Clean Ports program. EPA is soliciting feedback from all stakeholders – including private industry – on how it should structure the program, the “types of zero-emission port technologies” the agency should prioritize in administering funding, and how EPA should design the program to promote high quality labor standards, including the use of Project Labor Agreements.

The agency has also not yet resolved questions of critical importance to industry, including whether technologies that reduce emissions from power generation, railroads, and certain heavy-duty vehicles will be eligible for funding and whether the Clean Ports program should focus exclusively on technologies for which there are no other funding opportunities available in the IRA. Providing input now can alert EPA to some of the needs and challenges that are unique to industry and will ultimately help EPA resolve those questions to industry’s benefit.

Other Requests for Information

In addition to seeking information on the Clean Ports program, EPA is also seeking comment by January 18, 2023, on a number of other IRA programs, including how it should spend $5 billion to help States, air pollution control agencies, Tribes, and local governments develop and implement climate pollution reduction strategies; how it should spend $1 billion to cover the cost of replacing heavy-duty vehicles with clean alternatives; the Methane Emissions Reduction Program, known colloquially as MERP; how it should spend $300 million to improve air quality monitoring and to address air pollution in schools; implementation of the American Innovation and Manufacturing Act, including implementation of the Kigali Amendment; and standardization and transparency of corporate climate commitments.

Next Steps

Stakeholders in the port industry or directly serving that industry should consider weighing in on EPA’s Clean Ports Program. The current state of the program is heavily focused on funding opportunities, but the programs EPA chooses to fund will likely have a substantial impact on the future of port infrastructure for years to come.   

If you have any questions about these programs, please contact Tyler O’Connor, who recently served as the Energy Counsel to the House Energy & Commerce Committee that authored these programs.

For more information, please contact the professional(s) listed below, or your regular Crowell & Moring contact.

Tyler A. O'Connor
Partner – Washington, D.C.
Phone: +1.202.624.2704
Felicia L. Isaac
Associate – Washington, D.C.
Phone: +1.202.624.2942