New York congressman calls for L.A.-style port restructure

| 1/23/2009

Truckers are familiar with the recently-enacted Clean Truck Plans at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach. On the nation’s other coast, one lawmaker says New York state ports should restructure its ports to cut emissions and bring jobs.

Jerrold Nadler, D-NY, represents New York’s 8th District, including Brooklyn and Manhattan.

Nadler wrote an opinion piece in the New York Daily News on Thursday, Jan. 22, calling for ports in the New York region to adopt regulations addressing port driver labor concerns and truck emissions.

Nadler and Andrea Batista Schlesinger, executive director of the Drum Major Institute for Public Policy, wrote that truckers and residents near ports should not have to carry the entire burden of fixing the filthy air problem.

 “When they earn higher wages and benefits, port truck drivers can contribute more to their local economies while performing the necessary maintenance on their vehicles to keep their surrounding communities healthy and free of hazardous emissions.”

The twin ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach each have approved similar versions of a Clean Truck Plan, including bans on pre-1989 trucks that took effect on Oct. 1, and a phase-in of other older truck engine bans until all trucks are required to meet 2007 emissions standards by 2012.

Nadler likes the Port of Los Angeles plan in particular, including its requirement that drivers be company employees.

Adding restrictive port measures is the not answer, say some stakeholders. Improving efficiency by addressing port driver issues will do more, said Joe Rajkovacz, OOIDA regulatory affairs specialist. Drivers may spend several hours a week waiting in line for container chassis maintenance, for example.

“The problem faced by drivers has little to do with their ‘employment status,’ but with other factors such as indifference by the port authority to wasting driver’s time while on the port,” Rajkovacz told Land Line. “Without increased efficiency in how trucking operations are managed by port authorities nationwide, they help feed deep animosity to the current business structure.”

– By Charlie Morasch, staff writer