Media release: Crescent Towing cleans up emissions on 10 tugboats

Three yellow and black tugboats providing tug escort to large, blue marine vessel on the Mississippi River near New Orleans.

New Orleans Emissions around the Port of New Orleans will be reduced by nearly 30 tons per year over the next several months. Crescent Towing is replacing 20 old diesel-powered engines on 10 tugboats in their fleet. The air pollution reduction project is being completed in partnership with Environmental Initiative, a national nonprofit organization that has been cleaning up diesel vehicles since 2005. 

Tugboats Alabama, Angus R. Cooper, Ervin S. Cooper, G. Shelby Friedrichs, Louisiana, Margaret F. Cooper, Miriam W. Cooper, Mississippi, New Orleans, and Texas will be upgraded. The boats operate in Orleans Parish and provide ship escort, docking, and undocking from the mouth of the Mississippi River to Baton Rouge, Louisiana.  

“Crescent Towing is a strong proponent of environmental safety and responsibility,” said Keith Kettenring, executive vice president, Crescent Towing. “We’re grateful to Environmental Initiative for partnering with us on this project. These new engines will greatly reduce diesel air emissions and make strides to improve public health in the near-port community.” 

Marine diesel engines can operate for several decades – and many older machines lack the environmental controls that are now standard in newer equipment. When tugboats operate, their engines emit pollutants that can cause heart and lung disease and a range of other negative health effects. 

Residents in Orleans Parish are exposed to a multitude of air pollution sources including interstate highways, activities related to the oil and gas industry, petrochemical production, and river-based industries, including diesel-powered freight. The Crescent Towing project builds upon the Port of New Orleans’ $6 million investment in local air quality, that has reduced particulate emissions by 4.03 tons annually and nitrous oxide emissions by 76.1 tons annually.

“The Port of New Orleans applauds Crescent Towing’s partnership with Environmental Initiative to reduce tugboat emissions,” said Brandy D. Christian, Port NOLA President and CEO. “As a certified member of Green Marine, Port NOLA has captured tremendous momentum with our Clean Truck Replacement Incentive Program. This clean diesel initiative contributes to our local maritime industry’s continued commitment to reduce the environmental footprint.” 

Environmental Initiative has been collaborating with fleets across several states to reduce emissions from school buses, construction equipment, tugboats, locomotives, and other diesel fleets. More than 3,200 school buses and 1,500 other heavy-duty diesel vehicles have been cleaned up through their “Project Green Fleet” program.  

“New Orleans, like many U.S. port cities, faces a myriad of air pollution and equity challenges.” said Mike Harley, executive director at Environmental Initiative. “We’re proud to leverage our project and grant management experience to target reductions in communities who are most disproportionately impacted by air pollution.” 

The project is being funded through U.S. Environmental Protection Agency – Region 6 Diesel Emission Reduction Act grant. Crescent Towing is also investing their own capital in the project as part of federal grant cost share agreements.  

Photo credit: Crescent Towing.