Idling at Port of New York and New Jersey? Fuhgedaboutit

By Charlie Morasch, Land Line contributing writer | 8/12/2015

The Environmental Protection Agency and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey are implementing a slew of new programs aimed at cutting pollution at the shipping facility – including telling truck drivers not to idle.

In a late July news release, EPA Regional Administrator Judith Enck announced an agreement between port terminal operators, the Port Authority, and others to restrict idling and help truck owners purchase new trucks with lower emissions.

“It is imperative that trucks, especially in heavily congested port areas, reduce idling,” Enck said, according to the news release.

New Jersey law generally prohibits idling for more than three consecutive minutes when diesel-powered trucks aren’t moving.

The Port Authority promised to coordinate with “micro lenders serving small and disadvantaged businesses to assist drayage truck owners to obtain financing.” The Port Authority agreed to contribute $200,000 in truck replacement funding to help truck owners replace 2006 and older model year drayage trucks at $25,000 per truck.

Terminal operators at the Port of New York and New Jersey agreed to provide anti-idling instructions at gate entrances, install anti-idling signs and undertake a variety of additional driver education efforts to reduce idling.

The port’s largest three terminal operators also will pay the City of Newark $600,000 for “green infrastructure projects” in areas affected by the ports.

“These projects may include vegetative barriers, plantings and landscaping,” the agreement memorandum states, adding that Newark’s metropolitan area already struggles with unhealthy air that does not meet federal smog standards.

While the agreements by port terminal operators may appear charitable, EPA made clear that multiple law enforcement representatives participated in negotiations with affected parties.

“The EPA appreciates the valuable support provided in this instance by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of New Jersey and the Environment and Natural Resources Division of the U.S. Department of Justice,” the news release states.

Environmental regulators have focused on the Port of New York and New Jersey in recent years. The port worked with EPA to fund the replacement of 429 older trucks, helped phase out pre-1993 model year trucks by 2011, and is implementing a further phasing out of pre-2007 model year trucks by Jan. 1, 2017.

The port has added requirements for ships to operate slower while near the port and paid incentives for use of cleaner ship engines and lower sulfur fuel. The region underwent $600 million in additional railway work that’s hoped to reduce greenhouse gas and NOx emissions made by drays from diesel trucks.

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