Oakland port drivers to air CARB rule concerns Thursday

| 8/2/2011

Mike Evans built his trucking company into a medium-size empire at the Port of Oakland between 1990 and spring 2011, when he closed up shop.

What caused him to leave? He says it was a wave of environmental rules implemented by the California Air Resources Board.

“I had 10 trucks of my own, and ran about 40 total,” Evans told Land Line Magazine. “The model used to be, you get a $10,000, $15,000 truck, you might make it. The pool of owner-operators now, they can’t afford an $80,000 truck.”

Truck emissions have dropped considerably at California ports in recent years, and Evans is one of many port truckers in Oakland who want the California Air Resources Board to recognize the drop with a delay in additional port emissions regulation enforcement.

Evans is a board member of the West State Alliance, an organization of at least 60 truck owners and drivers who work or have worked at the Port of Oakland. West State Alliance will be among the trucking groups represented at a panel hearing from 1 to 3:30 p.m. Thursday at the Alameda County Board of Supervisors Chambers, located at 1221 Oak Street on the fifth floor. 

The hearing will be presided over by Alameda County Supervisors Nate Miley and Scott Haggerty, and discussion will include CARB’s decision not to delay enforcement further phases of its Drayage Truck Rule.

This past December, CARB’s board of directors decided against approving staff recommendations that would have delayed phase II of the state’s drayage truck rule.

Phase II of the drayage rule requires trucks to meet 2007 model year or newer emissions standards for some fleets by 2014 – only two years after many trucks are phased into compliance for phase one

Ronald Light, executive director of the West State Alliance, said the hearing is an indication of the alarm over the truck replacement problem expressed by public officials at the county board of supervisors and the Oakland elected city officials.

“It really suggests the urgency of the problem and the importance of the problem in the eyes of supervisors Miley and Haggerty,” Light told Land Line Magazine. “It really reflects their sense of urgency and the importance of this issue, and their concern for what’s in the best interests of the Oakland community.”

Light pointed to a study produced by the Bay Area Air Quality Management District that showed 50 percent reductions in diesel particulate matter and 40 percent reductions in NOx for trucks after Oakland enforced its own truck regulation in 2010.

“What that demonstrates is that we made marked, marked, positive changes to pollution and we should be essentially rewarded for what we’ve done an encouraged to stay on the same track,” Light said.

On Monday, the Port of Long Beach announced that emissions at that port had seen dramatic cuts between 2005 and 2010, including a drop as high as 72 percent for diesel particulates.

Sometimes Evans says he hopes to re-enter the trucking market in Oakland. Other times, the West State Alliance member shakes his head at the mountain of red tape he’d need to comply with.

“We’re still running for the same rates we had in 2008 – the only rate increase we’ve had has been fuel,” Evans said. “They changed the rules, and I’m just not big enough.”

For additional information, visit the West State Alliance website.