On March 20, 2008, after more than two years of advocacy, negotiation, drafting letters to the editor, meetings with public officials, a notice of intent to sue letter under the federal Resource Conservation and Recovery Act sent to the neighboring City of Long Beach, and countless meetings and public exhortations by NRDC and its environmental and labor allies, the Port of Los Angeles enacted a precedent-setting program designed to clean up diesel particulate emissions from port-serving diesel trucks.
These trucks are the largest source of goods movement-related diesel pollution in California – pollution that kills as many Californians each year as die from homicides. The plan imposes a phased-in concession agreement that requires trucking companies (licensed motor carriers) who want to serve the port to own their own trucks, employ their drivers, and enter into agreements about the type and state of repair of their trucks. The employee requirement has been very controversial, but, in my view, is necessary for the plan to work because the current model, relying on low-paid, independent owner-operators (truck drivers) to repair and replace their trucks, has been an environmental disaster.
Those of us in NRDC’s Southern California Air Program hope that the L.A. plan can be a model for ports all over the U.S. The American Trucking Association has promised to challenge the plan, and we are ready to help defend it.