Thursday, November 19, 2009

Oakland Port: No Truck Ban Extension or Upgrade Funds

Bay Area air quality officials told port-servicing truck drivers attending the Port of Oakland public meeting Monday that there would be no extension of an impending ban on older trucks and no further funds to help the drivers retrofit their vehicles or buy new ones.

The port ban, which takes effect Jan. 1, is expected to bar about a 1,000 of the approximately 3,000 port-servicing trucks from entering the port terminals. Drivers have protested that the ban will essentially put them out of business. Adopted in October, the ban denies port access to all pre-1994 model year trucks and requires that 1994 to 2003 model year trucks install after-market particulate matter capture devices.

The Bay Area Air Quality Management District had established a $22 million fund last year that was being used to help drivers of 1994 to 2003 model year trucks to pay for the smokestack filters--each costing from $10,000 to $21,000. Drivers receiving the grants were only responsible for the sales tax on the retrofit filters.

The fund was also used by the air district to provide $50,000 grants toward the purchase of a new truck, with the remaining $50,000-plus price tag for a new trucks being borne by the drivers.

To date, the $22 million fund has paid for just over 190 new trucks and more than 800 particle filters, of which more than 600 remain to be installed.

Two weeks ago, the BAAQMD sent nearly 1,000 port-servicing drivers letters rejecting applications for grants because the BAAQMD fund was already depleted.

Air quality officials said the new rules were required to reduce diesel pollution that studies show have contributed to elevated cancer and asthma rates near the port.