Ports delay decision on port overhaul plan until September

| 6/28/2007

Officials from the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach emerged from a closed-door meeting Wednesday and announced they were delaying consideration of its emissions-busting Clean Trucks Program, which offered sweeping changes to port operations including banning owner-operators from entering the port.

The ports, however, will move forward with formulating a concession application process that ultimately will decide which companies and trucks are allowed onto the ports beginning as early as next year.

The Clean Trucks Program, which port officials have said does not exist on paper, would allow only trucks that were licensed concessionaires, driven by company employee drivers and would have to meet 2007 emissions standards by 2013.

Any truck built before 1989 wouldn’t be allowed onto the port after Jan. 1.

The proposed plan has been criticized for its broad changes that many have said go beyond the plan’s stated goal of lowering emissions. The California Trucking Association and an attorney of the American Trucking Association and the Waterfront Coalition of retail and agricultural shippers have vehemently opposed the plan, which has several similarities to a formal proposal made by the Teamsters-backed Coalition for Clean and Safe Ports.

The ports have come under fire from environmental agencies and organizations that have filed civil lawsuits due to heavy greenhouse gas emissions from ships, trains and trucks at the ports.

Danny Schnautz is an OOIDA member from Pasadena, TX, and operations manager with Clark Freight Lines, whose drivers regularly visit the Los Angeles and Long Beach ports. Schnautz said the proposed plan’s drastic nature could slow freight movement and is likely to surprise many long-haul drivers that occasionally visit the ports.

The load will either come into the port via an approved company or it will be transloaded at an outside facility from the road truck to the approved truck, Schnautz told Land Line.

“Either way, this is obvious inefficiency and works against the stated goals of a cleaner environment,” he said.

Officials for the ports issued a joint news release Wednesday, June 27, saying they will undertake an economic impact study and assemble an industry task force to study and recommend specifics for the operations changes.

“The ports will also proceed with the selection of a program administrator that will oversee the concession application, contracting and program administration elements of the program,” the news release stated.

A final proposal would be made probably in September, port officials said.

“Our stakeholder process hasn’t been a ‘window-dressing’ formality – feedback has been constructive and valuable in shaping this plan,” said Geraldine Knatz, executive director of the Port of Los Angeles, in a news release.

“Many business stakeholders particularly wanted more economic data, and this extended timeline will enable us to study the economic implications of the plan. The extra time and analysis will make for a stronger program.”

Outside Wednesday’s closed-door meeting, Los Angeles news cameras hovered above southbound lanes of the 110 Freeway and filmed an estimated 20 trucks convoyed in support of the new plan.

– By Charlie Morasch, staff writer