Ports Bill Paves the Way for Clean Air Programs Across the Country

The Clean Ports Act 2010 Supports Existing Clean Truck Programs in Cities from New York to Los Angeles

WASHINGTON (July 29, 2010) -- Legislation introduced today by Representative Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) seeks to reduce truck-borne pollution in and around our nation’s shipping ports, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council. The federal legislation will protect port authority to implement stronger environmental standards on trucks and protect the pioneering Clean Truck Program established in October 2008 by the Port of Los Angeles.

“People living near the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach have suffered health problems for too long due to dirty trucks,” said Melissa Lin Perrella, senior attorney for NRDC. “We need to ensure ports have the authority to readily address these local threats to public health and safety. The Clean Ports Act of 2010 will safeguard the Southern California Clean Truck Program and other innovative clean truck programs adopted across the nation, as well as encourage other ports to improve the quality of their operations to reduce harmful air pollution in their communities.”

Port-serving trucks emit diesel particulate matter, which is associated with heart attacks, asthma, chronic bronchitis, premature mortality, increased cancer risk and other serious health ailments. Children and the elderly are particularly susceptible to these health risks. In early 2008, the port trucking system was estimated to impose up to $1.7 billion of costs on the Los Angeles region every year in the form of operational inefficiencies, community impacts and, above all, impacts on public health.


Since October 1, 2008, the Los Angeles Clean Truck Program has significantly reduced air pollution from trucks at the ports and in communities along freight transportation corridors by nearly 80 percent, a goal the Port of Los Angeles planned to achieve by 2012. An estimated $1.6 billion dollars is invested to replace an aging fleet of 17,000 trucks with newer, cleaner vehicles at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach before 2012.

The Los Angeles Clean Truck Program is part of the Clean Air Action Plan adopted 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. The Port of Los Angeles Clean Truck Program addresses safety and environmental concerns plaguing local communities by holding trucking companies directly responsible for the condition of the trucks they use to haul port cargo.

However, industry advocates have argued that the Federal Aviation Administration Authorization Act precludes ports from reforming port trucking operations or even fixing inefficiencies that affect a port’s bottom line. The Clean Ports Act of 2010 will empower – but not mandate – local ports to adopt requirements for motor carriers and vehicles that are reasonably related to the reduction of environmental pollution and traffic congestion, the improvement of highway safety, or the efficient utilization of port facilities. Such legislation will ensure that ports have the necessary tools to adequately address environmental and safety threats posed by the trucking industry. 

Relevant Links:

Read David Pettit’s blog on port air pollution: http://switchboard.nrdc.org/blogs/dpettit/ 

Read Melissa Lin Perrella’s blog at: http://switchboard.nrdc.org/blogs/mlinperrella/