Port of Oakland approves truck emissions plan

By Charlie Morasch, Land Line staff writer | 3/19/2008

California ports are looking at stiffer competition from railway-connected ports in Mexico and elsewhere along the West Coast, but that’s not stopping them from enacting new emissions rules.

On Tuesday, March 18, the Port of Oakland became the latest port to venture into emissions-busting by approving the first of several clean truck initiatives the port plans to tackle by June. The program will use container fees and other money to spend $520 million on truck retrofit and replacement and other emissions programs.

The Port of Oakland adopted early action measures that include approving a container fee to be determined later that will encourage replacing trucks as well as cutting ship idling emissions.

Oakland brings in 8 percent of California’s container imports, behind the giant twin ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles, Port Spokeswoman Libby Schaaf said. Fears of losing freight to ports in Mexico and Canada won’t stop Oakland port officials from trying to cut pollution and improve worker conditions, Schaaf recently told Land Line.

“We are certainly worried about cargo being diverted to ports outside the United States, and losing that economic advantage,” Schaaf said. “But we do not believe that reducing pollution has to come at the expense of economic vitality or even growth.”

Long Beach already has adopted a clean truck program limiting port access to licensed concessionaires that meet a laundry list of requirements, and the Port of Los Angeles plans to consider its own employee-only truck driver plan on Thursday.

OOIDA Regulatory Affairs Specialist Joe Rajkovacz traveled to California Wednesday in preparation for that meeting, and plans to provide port officials with the truckers’ perspective.

Ports in Seattle and Tacoma, WA, also have announced plans to enact new port truck emission rules.

Several shipping associations have indicated they are willing to sue and tie up port “clean truck” proposals in court if they prove inefficient and incongruent with constitutionally protected interstate commerce.

– By Charlie Morasch, staff writer

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