Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Oakland Truckers Warn of Stoppage Over Air Rules

A trade group representing motor carriers at the Port of Oakland has submitted a petition to Governor Jerry Brown warning of a general work stoppage at the port if state air regulators do not reconsider extending deadlines for impending truck emission regulations.

Members of the West State Alliance (WSA), which include about 60 trucking and trucking-related firms, propose a shutdown of all cargo movements at the Oakland port if the California Air Resources Board does not extend the deadline for the next phase of CARB emissions controls for drayage trucks by an additional six years.

On May 16 motor carriers at the Port of Oakland under the WSA banner sent a petition to CARB condemning a December, 2010 decision not to adopt proposed amendments to the drayage truck rule. The groups cited concerns over CARB's Phase II regulation mandating compliance with standards for NOx reduction in diesel exhaust starting in 2014. This measure affects some 4,400 drayage trucks, or approximately 75 percent of the total Oakland port fleet.

According to WSA, Oakland port truckers say they are prepared to assume the cost burden of purchasing PM filters for 2004-2006 engine model trucks required under Phase I of the drayage rule, but only if they are assured these trucks will remain legal until 2020. A proposal to extend the NOx emissions deadline an additional six years, from 2014 until 2020, was rejected by CARB.

This now leaves Oakland port truckers, WSA said, with a short window of emissions compliance before having to incur the expense of NOx equipment upgrades.

Furthermore, according to WSA, there are no after-market NOx emissions reduction filters readily available for diesel trucks to meet ARB emissions standards.

“Come 2014, owners of 1994-2006 engine model year trucks are left with no other option than to dispose of their tractors outside the Port and replace them with 2007 or newer models,” WSA said in a statement. “Current prices range upward of $65,000 for a used truck, and a scarce supply is rapidly depleting the market of available equipment.”

WSA said that one reason cited by Oakland port truckers for a delay in the NOx reduction schedule is a 2010 Bay Area Air Quality District (BAAQMD) study that found an unanticipated 40 percent reduction in NOx emissions at the port due to CARB's Phase I-mandated replacement of older polluting trucks. The WSA claims these reductions put the Oakland trucking fleet well on its way to significant reductions in NOx emissions without the need of imposing the Phase II regulations set to be implemented in 2014.

“Furthermore, Phase I of the drayage truck rule already placed a heavy financial burden on Port truckers,” the WSA said. “Many went out of business, many incurred high-interest loans and large amounts of debt, and state grants were grossly insufficient in number and size to help the majority of truck owners. The seventeen signatories to the petition to the ARB say that in meeting Phase I requirements of the drayage truck rule they have done their fair share and more to shoulder the burden of state clean air regulations. Now, they say, the City of Oakland “can ill afford the certain loss of jobs on the local economy and the devastating social and health impacts that will result from the mandated obsolescence of 4,400 trucks.”

Signatories to the petition include: AB Trucking, Bay Area Container, Fargo Trucking, GSC Logistics, Horizon Freight System, Impact Transportation, Kamal Trucking, Lengner & Sons Express, Mason Dixon Intermodal, Mutual Express, PCC Logistics, Quintero Trucking, Rodgers Trucking, Stockmyer Trucking, VA Transportation, Viper Transportation and Yardell Truckaway.