Streamlining Sustainability: Regulatory and Permitting Improvements to Achieve California’s Freight Goals


December 2018

Freight is responsible for hundreds of thousands of jobs in California and feeds commerce and agriculture throughout the state and the entire nation. But the trains, trucks, aircraft, and ocean vessels that ship goods throughout California are responsible for a disproportionate amount of greenhouse gas emissions and harmful air pollutants (such as nitrogen oxides and sulfur dioxide), particularly in disadvantaged communities near railyards and ports. A range of strategies and technologies, from electrified heavy-duty trucks to increasing the use of rail at ports, can modernize the system and reduce emissions, but they can be challenging to implement in the current legal and policy ecosystem.

To reduce these impacts and maintain competitiveness, UC Berkeley Law’s Center for Law, Energy and the Environment (CLEE) partnered with the Governor’s Offices of Planning and Research (OPR) and Business and Economic Development (GO-BIZ) to offer recommendations to increase the rate that cleaner freight technologies are integrated into the system and help the state achieve the goals set forth in 2016’s Sustainable Freight Action Plan.

Our new report, informed by a stakeholder convening in the Governor’s Office, offers a set of recommendations including:

  • Convening sustainable freight “red teams” to conduct holistic analysis and clear local and state-level permitting roadblocks for high-priority infrastructure projects;
  • Facilitating “tiered” review under the California Environmental Quality Act to comprehensively assess impacts and benefits of related freight projects; and
  • Increasing the use of community benefit agreements and project labor agreements to earn the support of local communities and labor groups most likely to be affected by new projects or technological developments.

California’s freight system leaders will need to maximize its efficiency to retain this position of prominence while protecting California residents and workers. The recommendations outlined in Streamlining Sustainability can help California achieve its ambitious emission reduction, public health, and economic competitiveness goals.

Download the Report:

Streamlining Sustainability: Regulatory and Permitting Improvements to Achieve California’s Freight Goals (December 2018)

For More Information:

Contact Ethan Elkind, Director of the Climate Program at CLEE or Ted Lamm, Research Fellow in the Climate Program