Ports of Long Beach, Los Angeles to collect new container fees Wednesday

| 2/17/2009

The twin ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach will begin collecting new fees Wednesday that will fund a massive truck replacement program aimed at cutting diesel emissions.

The ports are scheduled to begin charging $35 per twenty-foot container unit on Wednesday. The fees are to be paid by cargo shippers or owners, not by truck drivers.

The mega ports – which during prosperous times claimed to import 40 percent of the nation’s goods – approved Clean Truck Programs last fall, which banned pre-1989 diesel engine trucks. The Clean Truck Programs will ban pre-1994 trucks on Jan. 1, 2010. By January 2012, all diesel trucks with engines 2006 and older will be banned.

Port of Long Beach Executive Director Richard Steinke said the Clean Trucks Fee will raise about $1 million a day over the next few years as both ports will spend billions to replace some drayage companies’ fleets.

“It is imperative that we begin collecting the fees so we can move forward and achieve our clean-air goals,” Steinke said in a statement. “The truck financing fee is a critical, long-planned part of our Clean Trucks Program to protect public health and improve air quality and security.”

OOIDA has expressed serious concerns over the two ports’ $2.2 billion truck replacement program, and the unfair economic advantage many major carriers can leverage after receiving millions of dollars in public financing.

The Federal Maritime Commission – which has certain authority to protect the free flow of U.S. commerce – has launched two investigations into the legalities of the ports’ clean truck programs and has taken other actions aimed at investigating the Clean Trucks Programs.

Last week the Commission voted to require both ports to file “special monitoring reports with the Commission,” as each port implements the container fees.

“These reports will allow the Commission to closely monitor the ongoing operation of the Clean Truck Fee collection process to assess the fee’s impact on the San Pedro Bay drayage industry and the American shippers and consumers served by that industry,” according to a statement from the maritime commission.

– By Charlie Morasch, staff writer