Historic Clean Trucks Plans Roll Through Ports of LA and Long Beach

Ports pollution cut in half overnight; Plans will reduce pollution 80 percent by 2012
LOS ANGELES (October 1, 2008) – Today, more than 2,000 of the most polluting diesel trucks will no longer service the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach thanks to a five-year Clean Trucks Program to replace nearly 17,000 diesel trucks with an EPA 2007 compliant fleet.
“Port-related air pollution is being cut in half overnight,” said Adrian Martinez, project attorney with the southern California air program at the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). “This is a huge victory for the people living in ports communities who are literally breathing cleaner air effective today.”
Martinez said Southern California has some of the worst air quality in the nation and requires great attention to fix the problem. The clean trucks programs will reduce congestion near the ports, provide lower-emission vehicles, and promote driver safety in surrounding port communities.
“We can expand the ports and increase commerce, but it needs to be done with the protection of public health as a priority,” said Martinez.
It will cost an estimated $1.6 billion dollars to replace an aging fleet of 17,000 trucks with newer, cleaner vehicles before 2012. A $35 container fee applied to each 20-foot container passing through the ports will offset financing costs to purchase the clean trucks. At the port of Los Angeles, they are asking trucking companies to apply for funding and at the port of Long Beach they are allowing individual owner-operators to apply. Both ports expect the fund created by the $35 fee will allow them to subsidize up to 80 percent of each new truck.
“While some industry naysayers have tried to throw up roadblocks to the clean trucks programs, the ports have overcome these efforts to get the dirtiest trucks off the road,” said Martinez. “It is not enough to replace old dirty trucks with new dirty trucks, but that’s what will happen if the new trucks aren’t maintained adequately.”
Earlier this spring when both ports adopted clean trucks programs, the American Trucking Association (ATA) announced its intent to block the plan from moving forward at both ports. In July, it filed suit against the use of a “concession model” at the ports, a program that manages the clean trucks and ensures they are kept clean for years to come. The ports, NRDC, Sierra Club and the Coalition for Clean Air fought ATA’s attempt to block the concession plan and subsequent injunction requests in district and federal court were denied.
The Clean Trucks Program is part of a larger Clean Air Action Plan currently under way by the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach in an effort to expand the ports’ business operations, and also reduce harmful air pollution impacts on the local port community and environment. In addition to the Clean Trucks Programs, the ports have numerous expansion projects planned during the next several years and some experts expect to see port commerce double or triple by 2020.
“This is not the first time NRDC has had a hand in greening the ports,” said Melissa Lin Perrella, staff attorney for NRDC. “During the past decade, we’ve seen numerous expansion projects proposed at the ports and not all have been up to snuff. We need to ensure that the clean air gains from the ports’ clean trucks programs remain over the long haul. Properly maintained, well-managed goods movement at the ports is good for business and good for the health of people living in ports communities.”
In 2002, NRDC won strong environmental and public health safeguards for the China Shipping Terminal expansion project. The lawsuit victory required the port and city to prepare a full environmental review before resuming expansion of the terminal and included stringent emission-reduction measures, such as requiring ships to shut off their engines and use alternative energy sources at the port instead of idling their engines for hours at a time.
For more reaction to the Clean Trucks Programs, visit Adrian Martinez’s blog at: http://switchboard.nrdc.org/blogs/amartinez/