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More Great Lakes ports tracking greenhouse-gas emissions

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — A recent report finds around a third of participating ports in the United States and Canada, including those in Duluth and Milwaukee, are keeping a detailed inventory of greenhouse-gas emissions.

The tracking is part of the Green Marine environmental certification program, Wisconsin Public Radio reports. The voluntary effort was started in 2007 for the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Seaway.

The West Coast program manager Eleanor Kirtley said the program has seen a 12% increase in the number of participants, which includes ship owners, shipyards and port authorities. The program’s  mission, she said, is to advance environmental excellence among its 133 participants.

“We focus on continual self-improvement,” Kirtley said.

The participants evaluate their own progress toward various goals, such as combating invasive species, greenhouse-gas emissions, spills, waste and cargo losses. The rated their performance on a scale of 1 to 5, and their evaluations are later verified by a third part.

The Duluth Seaway Port Authority, which manages the largest port on the Great Lakes, maintained a rating of level 4 or higher for goals such as minimizing spills and cargo losses and for environmental leadership. Jeff Stollenwerk,  government and environmental affairs director at the port authority, promised improvement in waste management and greenhouse-gas tracking.

“We’re evolving from a system that pretty much focused solely on carbon dioxide emissions,” he said.

Port Milwaukee, the program’s only participating port in Wisconsin, has also been putting resources into environmental leadership and taking inventory of emissions produced by their equipment and buildings over the past several years, according to Brian Kasprzyk, port field engineer. He said there’s always room to improve.

“We still need to do some work as far as documentation and some policies and actually getting it in writing,” he said. “A lot of the stuff we communicate verbally with our tenants.”

Port Milwaukee maintained a level 3 status on environmental leadership and greenhouse gas emissions, according to the report.

Port and Seaway participants showed the greatest improvement in 2018, according to the report. It said results among ship owners on efforts to reduce the risk of aquatic invasive species indicate “greater feasibility of ballast water treatment systems within the marketplace.” The findings showed seven of 18 ship owners were using a treatment system on one or more vessels.

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