L.A., Long Beach port plan inspires similar effort in Washington state

| 1/9/2008

The green wave continues to roll up the West Coast, as environmental efforts targeting port trucks produced new rules at the twin ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach and spurred similar efforts at Washington ports.

The ports of Seattle and Tacoma announced plans in November to join Vancouver, British Columbia, in the “Northwest Ports Clean Air Strategy.” The strategy is a multitiered plan that calls for trucks to meet particulate matter emission standards equal to or better than 1994 or “newer heavy duty truck engine model year” by 2010 according to the plan.

By 2015, the plan calls for 80 percent of the trucks at the port to reach the equivalent particulate matter emissions level of 2007 or newer engines. All trucks would have to meet the 2007 standard by 2017.

The ports of Seattle and Tacoma are each scheduled to consider approving the plans in mid-January.

Officials with the ports of L.A. and Long Beach, who say the ports combine to import 45 percent of all U.S. imports, approved $35 container fees in December to pay for new trucks for certain companies. In November, the ports approved clean truck programs that ban pre-1989 trucks by the fall of 2008. The new regs will ban all trucks that don’t meet 2007 emission standards by 2012.

Joe Rajkovacz, regulatory affairs specialist for OOIDA, told the Federal Maritime Commission in fall 2007 of the Association’s concerns about greenhouse gas emissions programs geared to restrict port access more than address emission problems. OOIDA leaders have expressed concern that owner operators won’t be allowed access into U.S. ports and will have to pay other truckers extra fees to get loads moved in and out of ports.

The twin ports are scheduled to consider a further addition to the clean truck plan that would require drivers entering the port to be company employees who work for licensed concessionaires designated by the port.

As of Jan. 9, the Port of Seattle had not updated its plans, although a scathing audit revealed in December that the port’s executive staff had hidden financial information and had wasted $97 million in taxpayer money.

A federal criminal investigation of the port’s spending practices is under way, the Associated Press reported on Tuesday, Jan. 8.

– By Charlie Morasch, staff writer