OOIDA objects to CARB port rule scheduled for Friday vote

| 12/6/2007

The latest wave of concern about global warming is hitting U.S. ports, and OOIDA officials say they want to ensure that long-haul truckers can access ports without having radio frequency identifiers attached to their trucks or other invasive tracking.

The California Air Resources Board plans to vote Friday on the agency’s proposed port drayage rule. The rule would require all trucks entering the ports to have engines that meet 2007 emissions standards by the year 2014 and would require trucks to sign up in California’s drayage truck registry.

The meeting will be webcast at www.arb.ca.gov, beginning at 11 a.m. CST.

OOIDA has responded to CARB’s proposed port truck rule with 11 pages of comments sent by Jim Johnston, the Association’s president and CEO. In the comments, OOIDA officials say they believe the proposed CARB port truck rule defines drayage too broadly and unfairly burdens interstate commerce.

“OOIDA believes that while the intent of the proposed regulation is laudable, the proposal contains some fundamental flaws,” the comments state.

The proposed drayage truck regulation’s first flaw, according to OOIDA’s comments, is that CARB’s definition of “drayage truck” is overly broad and violates a federal statute by creating an “unfair burden on interstate commerce.”

CARB defines a port drayage truck as any diesel truck 33,000 pounds or greater that ever enters or leaves a port. OOIDA pointed out that every heavy-duty diesel truck that enters California will likely fall under similar emission restrictions when CARB’s proposed in-use diesel emission reduction initiative is approved and put into effect. The in-use rule is planned to be considered in October 2008.

Also, the Association pointed out that long-haul truckers are being lumped into a much different group. California officials are on record as being concerned about thousands of older, dirty trucks that rarely leave the Los Angeles area. Researchers at California State University-Long Beach produced a study in 2004 that showed that an estimated 16,000 trucks make 80 percent of port calls at the southern California ports, leaving the remaining 20 percent of port calls to long-haul trucking operations.

“The vast majority of OOIDA members are long-haul operators that enter California ports and rail yards only infrequently,” the comments read.

In addition, OOIDA’s leaders believe that CARB’s planned truck registry and requirement that trucks display a sticker showing membership in the registry violate Sec. 4306 of the SAFETEA-LU Act, in which Congress explicitly prohibited states and other local governments from requiring trucks engaged in interstate commerce from having identification.

Environmental regulations at ports have snowballed in recent months.

The twin ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach adopted clean truck programs this in November that ban pre-1989 trucks by October 2008 and would require all truck engines to meet 2007 emission standards by 2012. The two ports are scheduled to consider additional proposals later this month to require all drivers to be company employees, and to restrict access to companies that are licensed concessionaires.

The Port of Seattle and Port of Tacoma are considering clean truck programs as well.

“Clearly, California is the model others are seeking to emulate when dealing with diesel emissions from trucks,” the Association’s comments read. “It is important that ARB ‘get it right’; otherwise, it is probable that the desired results sought by many environmental agencies and ports on the West Coast will be needlessly delayed through years of litigation.”

Joe Rajkovacz, the Association’s regulatory affairs specialist, flew to California Monday, Dec. 3, and plans to attend CARB’s meeting on Friday, along with Laura O’Neill, OOIDA government affairs counsel from the Association’s Washington, DC, office. Rajkovacz participated in several meetings already this week with CARB staff members and officials from the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles.

Rajkovacz told Land Line on Wednesday he believes OOIDA and other industry leaders can help CARB put together a drayage truck rule that won’t be subject to challenges.

“We are hopeful that the CARB board on Friday recognized that CARB and its regulators did not get the full input from individuals affected by this regulation,” he said, pointing out the Association’s position regarding CARB’s definition of drayage truck. “Hopefully the board recognizes that. Without sending the whole thing back to the drawing board, the regulation does need more work. It flat out does.”

The Association has repeatedly stated that truck drivers aren’t opposed to clean air but want to ensure a level playing field for small business owners and the feasible implementation of emission requirements.

A recent study of trucks at the Port of Oakland showed that truck drivers breathe air that’s up to 2,000 times as polluted as federal and state clean-air standards. The report – funded by the National Resources Defense Council and other environmental groups – showed that black carbon inside truck cabs was at least 10 times as high as the carbon levels measured in a “working class Oakland neighborhood.”

The report concluded that “truck drivers face off-the-charts health risks.”

– By Charlie Morasch, staff writer