CARB adopts statewide port rule to limit diesel emissions by 2009

| 12/7/2007

The California Air Resources Board unanimously approved sweeping new rules Friday to block older trucks from ports by late 2009 and require all trucks to meet 2007 emission standards by late 2013.

CARB spent four hours hashing over the port drayage truck rule, including hearing comments from 36 members of the public and debate between board members about the rule’s implications.

The rule means that by Dec. 31, 2009, all drayage trucks must be retrofitted to include 1994 model year engines or newer, and 1994 through 2003 engines must have a level 3 VDECS. By Dec. 31, 2013, all drayage trucks must meet 2007 emission standards.

Other portions of the new rule aren’t yet clear how they’ll be enforced. CARB officials hinted at trying to work with port administrators to influence how the regulation will be enforced locally.

Several statements from CARB officials, however, shed light on the agency’s perspective.

Mike Miguel, who heads CARB’s port truck rule team, told the board that 80 percent of goods hauled to and from the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach are from fleets that rarely leave the Los Angeles area. The agency is aware that its regulation is likely to change the structure of port trucking.

“Post regulation, non-frequent visiting fleets are expected to switch to other trucking sectors,” Miguel said. “We expect that most non-frequent (visiting) truck owners will choose not to install the equipment needed to comply with this rule.”

Later in the meeting, CARB Chairman Mary Nichols asked that board members not ask questions regarding the port labor issue. The Teamsters are attempting to persuade the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles to require that all drivers entering the port be company employees, and that only trucks from companies licensed as concessionaires be allowed into the port.

“This is an incredibly complicated industry, as we’re beginning to tell,” Nichols said.
“There is a movement going on to try to organize (truck drivers in ports). All of which is healthy, and good, and which we want to be supportive of.”

OOIDA representatives were among several groups who criticized CARB’s definition of port drayage truck – defined as any 33,000 pound diesel truck that ever visits a port.

Matt Schrap of the California Trucking Association, called CARB’s port rule “an eyesore” and said it should be redirected to staff before being considered for approval by the board.

Board Member Sandra Berg suggested CARB consider turning away trucks at the port gate as a way to enforce the new emission rule.

Michael Terris, a senior attorney for CARB, however, clarified to board members that the agency may open itself up to legal challenges related to the Interstate Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution if it specifically bars trucks from entering ports based on a specific state law.

Instead, the agency will try to work with ports such as the Port of Long Beach and the Port of Los Angeles, CARB officials said.

Joe Rajkovacz, OOIDA’s regulatory affairs specialist, told board members that long-haul truckers want to maintain access to ports.

“Our folks are not against clean air; they want to be compliant, do the right thing,” Rajkovacz said. “But we also want it to be done sensibly.”

“It’s an onerous burden on interstate commerce, and in terms of being able to accomplish what they want, it’s not a true way to verify enforcement.”

Earlier drafts of CARB’s port rule included a drayage truck registry and a sticker requirement for trucks from any state that enter California. OOIDA voiced its concerns in an 11-page comment paper this week. Early Friday, OOIDA officials learned that CARB had modified several pieces of the regulation after receiving the comments but details on the modifications were not available.

Rajkovacz said OOIDA plans to continue working with CARB to minimize problems for long-haul truckers who periodically stop at ports. It appears out-of-state drivers would still have to register if they ever plan to make drops at 14 California ports, Rajkovacz said.

“It’s all still problematic,” Rajkovacz said.

Nichols and several CARB officials hinted that the easiest part of regulating port trucks remained in writing the rule.

“The difficult, task is ahead of us, in actually making it work,” she said.

– By Charlie Morasch, staff writer