NY/NJ ports unveil port truck rules a la L.A.

| 3/10/2010

The Port Authority of New York/New Jersey unveiled a clean truck program Wednesday that will eventually require all trucks visiting the port to have 2007 model year engines.

The program will ban trucks with pre-1994 model year engines by January 2011 and will ban pre-2007 model year engine trucks by 2017.

“We have worked closely with all stakeholders to make sure that this new program will help clean up the pollution at our ports, and in the process ensure that we do not overburden our already struggling port and trucking industry,” said Chris Ward, executive director of the Port Authority.

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association’s leadership watched clean truck programs closely as they were implemented in California. The ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach banned pre-1989 trucks from entering their ports in 2009. In January 2010, trucks with 1993 model year engines and older were banned. By 2012, only trucks meeting 2007 model year diesel engine emissions standards will be allowed at the ports.

As part of restricting access, the southern California ports required truck owners to enter into expensive concession agreements.

A lawsuit filed by ATA has sought to overturn portions of the Los Angeles port’s Clean Truck Program.

Gail Toth, executive director of the New Jersey Motor Truck Association, said the port authority’s plan will unnecessarily ban many trucks that are in good repair, and will drive many small-business owner-operators away from drayage trucking.

Despite a reported $28 million the port will be distributing to help replace older trucks, Toth said very little of those funds, if any, will make it to small businesses.

“The New Jersey Motor Truck Association does not support the ban,” Toth said. “They’re giving us nada, and they’re doing it during the greatest economic recession of our time. The small businessman is going to be pushed out.”

Toth said she was disappointed that only a handful of actual trucking representatives served on the port’s group of stakeholders that helped develop the plan.

“There were a lot of other ways this could have been approached to get the same results without putting some people out of business, or forcing people to operate their trucks in a certain way,” said Toth. “Trucks are responsible for only .03 percent of the particulate matter emissions at the port. We’re the least emitters, by the port’s studies.”

OOIDA’s Joe Rajkovacz agreed.

Rajkovacz, OOIDA director of regulatory affairs, said the port’s truck program process in developing the rule should have been more transparent.

“If by working with ‘stakeholders,’ the Port Authority means ‘like-minded travelers,’ then yes, I guess you could say they worked with stakeholders,” Rajkovacz said. “This was as closed-door a process as one can get.”

One trucking industry player welcomed the plan.

The American Trucking Associations issued a statement Wednesday thanking the New York/New Jersey ports for not adopting an employee-driver mandate similar to the requirement created by the Port of Los Angeles.

“I would like to express our appreciation to the leadership of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey who managed the development of this Clean Truck initiative,” said Curtis Whalen, executive director of the Intermodal Motor Carriers Conference of the ATA.

– By Charlie Morasch, staff writer