Background

Acting Commissioner Troy Miller said recently that U.S. Customs and Border Protection is starting to take steps to implement the Green Trade Strategy it first announced a year ago. However, little appears to have yet been done on most of the more significant trade-related measures outlined in that strategy.

The strategy sets forth how CBP will work to accelerate the global transition to green trade and decrease its own environmental footprint. It incorporates four broad goals: incentivizing green trade, strengthening environmental enforcement, accelerating green innovation, and improving climate resilience and resource efficiency.

The strategy envisions a number of trade-facilitating measures, including streamlining cargo clearance, upgrading trade infrastructure at ports of entry, and reimagining the entry process to make it more resource-efficient. It also incorporates enforcement-focused actions such as adding environmental criteria to trusted trader programs, more aggressive application of existing penalties, and expanding the collection of supply chain data to target violators. Internally, CBP may pursue steps such as enhancing the energy efficiency of office buildings, transitioning to an electric vehicle fleet, and making agency operations compatible with emerging technologies and environmentally-friendly methods of commerce.

At the inaugural Green Trade Forum held recently near Washington, D.C., Miller provided an update on what CBP is doing to advance these goals, but he said little about some of the more fundamental changes that are likely of particular interest to the trade community. He did note that CBP is continuing to review how green trade provisions might be incorporated into existing authorized economic operator programs. Perhaps in reference to other, specifically customs-related changes, however, he said only that CBP will keep engaging with industry partners, non-governmental organizations, and academic institutions to solicit ideas and perspectives.

On the other hand, Miller said, CBP is moving forward in other areas, including the following.

- digitizing remaining manual and paper-based compliance processes

- investing in the development of digital supply chain technologies that will help CBP and the trade community trace and verify the origin, composition, and environmental impact of products

- contributing to the World Customs Organization’s Green Customs Action Plan, which will be launched later this year

- enforcing USMCA prohibitions against natural resource crimes such as illegal deforestation and timber logging; illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing; and wildlife trafficking

- upgrading 26 land border ports of entry to be more sustainable, energy-efficient, and compliant with federal green building requirements

- conducting a port emissions modeling and analysis study that will provide a baseline model for current commercial truck greenhouse gas emissions at land ports of entry and offer recommendations to reduce overall emissions and boost cargo processing efficiency

- partnering with public and private-sector organizations to develop an open-source Port Community Information System that is designed to optimize port business processing and reduce related greenhouse gas emissions

- working to execute an energy savings performance contract involving more than 75 CBP facilities across 15 states and Puerto Rico

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