Thursday, December 22, 2011

Clean Ports Act Introduced in US Congress

Legislation that would give local and regional ports across the US the autonomy to implement programs that go beyond current federal mandates to reduce diesel emissions has been introduced for consideration in the US Senate.
The Clean Ports Act of 2011, which was submitted Dec. 16 by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), was inspired in part by the respective clean trucks programs at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach.

“It’s time to update federal laws and allow our nation's ports to help reduce diesel emissions and improve air quality,” Gillibrand said in a statement announcing the proposed legislation.

The Clean Ports Act, which is co-sponsored by five other senators – Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Al Franken (D-MN), Charles Schumer (D-NY), Robert Menendez (D-NJ), and Sherrod Brown (D-OH) – would allow ports to impose more stringent terms and conditions of operations on drayage trucks and other diesel-powered equipment that contribute to air pollution.

Similar legislation was first proposed in the U.S. House of Representatives in 2010 by Congressman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), but failed to pass. Earlier this year, Nadler introduced a modified version of the bill, which mirrors the Senate version and is still pending.

More than 150 business, environmental and labor groups have already lined up to support the House or Senate versions of the Clean Ports Act, including American Stevedoring Inc., the Teamsters union and the Natural Resources Defense Council.

But the legislation has been opposed by the American Trucking Associations and US Chamber of Commerce, among others. They say the bill would lead to increased costs, as trucking companies would be forced to buy newer, less-polluting vehicles and then pass the cost on to consumers.

The measure has not yet been scheduled for a vote in either the House or Senate.