How SCA Can Help Your Port Access Federal Funding for Infrastructure Projects

Jun 20, 2022

Jack Conness

It’s no secret that the current state of America’s infrastructure is the direct result of decades of overuse and underinvestment. While there are myriad issues embedded within the ongoing global supply chain crisis – ports, particularly American ports – sit at the epicenter of this crisis.

In our experience working with ports on sustainability issues, decaying port infrastructure and exponential growth in global commerce are just about as compatible as stable sea levels and melting polar ice caps. If that weren’t enough port managers must layer on the climate, health and environmental justice issues embedded within the “simple”, yet critical infrastructure challenges ports must confront.

According to MarketWatch, the country’s nine largest ports handled a collective 50.5 million shipping containers, a 16% increase from 2020 (1). Regrettably but not at all surprisingly, this increase in business had led to an increase in pollution.

Ninety percent of the world’s trade is transported by sea (2) and nearly 20% of global emissions come from the transportation sector (3). Emissions from the global shipping industry are having a profound impact on a rapidly changing and warming climate, which will certainly hurt business in the decades ahead. While ports are the nerve center of our global transportation infrastructure, the deleterious climate change and health impacts of port activities are felt most dramatically by the estimated 39 million people living near them. When coupled with the sheer magnitude of carbon emissions that port activities generate, there are fewer market sectors in more need of inclusive, equitable, replicable, and scalable climate sustainability solutions.

In a March 2022 report conducted by the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) – Act Now or Pay Later: The Costs of Climate Inaction for Ports and Shipping – they estimate that the cost of storm-related damages and disruptions, which is already pegged at $3 billion/year currently, will rise to nearly $10 billion/year by 2050. Port adaptation costs are expected to cost ports $5.8 billion/year by 2050 as well. Rising sea levels and more devastating hurricanes will make it increasingly more difficult for ports to have sustainable and profitable businesses.

In an effort to help ports mitigate climate-related damages and invest in a sustainable future, Congress passed the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law in 2021. This bill is packed with $17 billion in funding specifically intended for ports to invest into their infrastructure. This includes reducing truck emissions, port electrification, climate resiliency projects, charging infrastructure, and nearly double the funding for the Port Infrastructure Development Program (PIDP).

Thanks to the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the PIDP will now support, encourage, and give competitive advantages to projects that strengthen resilience, reduce emissions, and advance environmental justice goals. This will provide an incredible and new opportunity for ports to access funding that will either begin or continue their sustainability and climate-related projects.

Other port funding opportunities include:

  • Section 11401. Grants for Charging and Fueling Infrastructure ($2.5 billion)
  • Section 11402. Reduction of Truck Emissions at Port Facilities ($250 million)
  • Section 11403. Carbon Reduction Program
  • Section 11405 – Promoting Resilient Operations for Transformative, Efficient, and Cost-Saving Transportation (PROTECT) Program ($1.4 billion)

SCA has very specific experience in working with ports and all of the units of government involved to design and execute upon sustainability plans and objectives. We partner with ports to collaborate and help to navigate the policy, financial and operational shoals that sit between ports and their sustainability goals and objectives.

We understand how ports operate, the policy and regulatory frameworks within which ports run the stakeholders to engage to design and execute upon sustainability objectives, the barriers to transition and technology deployments, the barriers to public and private capital engagement, the public and private sources of capital that can be accessed, deployed and assembled in support of port sustainability efforts and the policy tools, business models and financing structures to leverage public capital and animate private capital to meet sustainability goals with inclusive and scalable strategies.

It is imperative that ports move quickly to access federal money that will be available to them. Whether a port is in the beginning stages of their sustainability plan or has already accomplished numerous sustainable infrastructure initiatives, these funds will be available to those who know how to access them quickly and strategically.

We contend that if you make one port sustainable, you’ve created the model and toolkit to make all ports sustainable. Let your port be the first to fully leverage capital in support of a sustainable future.


  1. https://www.marketwatch.com/story/americas-biggest-ports-handled-a-record-50-5-million-shipping-containers-last-year-11645539342
  2. https://www.npr.org/2021/12/01/1060382176/shipping-industry-is-pressured-to-cut-pollution-caused-by-merchant-fleet
  3. https://www.edf.org/sites/default/files/press-releases/RTI-EDF%20Act%20Now%20or%20Pay%20Later%20Climate%20Impact%20Shipping.pdf

About the author


Jack Conness

Former Research Analyst Fellow

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