Thursday, December 3, 2009

Long Beach Port: Truck Program To Meet Emission Goals Two Years Early

A Port of Long Beach program to cut port-servicing diesel truck emissions by 80 percent is set to meet its original goal two years ahead of schedule, according to port officials.

Port Executive Director Richard Steinke told the Long Beach City Council on Tuesday that a second ban on certain model year trucks– set to take effect Jan. 1, 2010– will remove an additional 8,000 older trucks from the port drayage service and push the port truck program over the 80 percent emission reduction goal.

The first ban, which took effect at the start of the truck plan on Oct. 1, 2008, barred more than 2,200 pre-1989 model year trucks in the port-servicing fleet from entering the ports. The impending Jan. 1, 2010 ban will bar all pre-1994 trucks from port service as well as all 1994-2003 models that have not been retrofit with pollution control devices.

"Beginning on New Year's Day, Jan. 1, 2010, 8,000 more dirty trucks will be banned forever from working at the port and polluting our air," Steinke told the Council.

Although Steinke's comments seemed to indicate that the 8,000 trucks will be removed directly by the ban, a port news release issued Tuesday appeared to break down the number differently, stating that "Most of the aging big-rigs are already gone, replaced by 5,600 newer, safer and cleaner trucks," with another 2,400 newer trucks already on order and merely awaiting delivery.

The port news release also stated that by Jan. 1, 2010, 90 percent of the trucks providing drayage service to the port would be 2007 model year trucks or newer.

Steinke congratulated the trucking industry for picking up the cost of this ahead-of-schedule transition "on its own dime." The port, for its part, has helped finance "several hundred" newer trucks, according to Stienke, 81 percent of which are alternative fueled vehicles.

While little public documentation exists to support the port claims, the port has completed an air inventory report that details air quality measurements that covers at least a portion of the first year of the truck program. The report is set to be released by the port, perhaps within the month, following an ongoing review of the document by the California Air Resources Board.

Port officials have also indicated that given the apparent success of meeting the truck program goals two years ahead of schedule, new and even more stringent targets for emissions reductions are under consideration and could be amended to the port's clean air plans in the near future.

A truck plan with similar air quality goals was also adopted by the neighboring Port of Los Angeles, but has been hampered by litigation from the trucking industry over several non-environmental points such as language requiring truck drivers to operate only as employees of trucking firms. Long Beach, which never included employee-only language in its plan, settled with the American Trucking Associations in October over the remaining non-environmental issues and has since been removed by a federal judge from the litigation.