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Port of Los Angeles Proposes Developing the Cleanest Truck Program

Adrian Martinez

Posted April 20, 2012

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Yesterday, the Port of Los Angeles Board of Harbor Commissioners unanimously approved its Strategic Plan for 2012 to 2017.  Overall, I must admit portions of the plan made me do a double-take because of the strong vision of sustainability exhibited.  NRDC was very supportive of the Port of Los Angeles’ Clean Truck Program, even battling in court aside the Port as trucking lobbyists tried to knock down this program.  

And throughout the development of the Clean Trucks Program, everyone understood that the original 5-year program was only the 1st step in protecting harbor area communities from harmful truck pollution.  The Port’s transformation of the fleet of old, dirty diesel trucks to a fleet of all 2007 U.S. EPA compliant trucks in this 5 year program was an amazing accomplishment.  But now we need Step 2: transitioning to zero emissions trucks.  Luckily, the Port of Los Angeles’ Strategic Plan includes thoughts on this issue.  

One of the critical strategic objectives in its plan is related to advancing technology and sustainability.  In particular, the Port vows to:

Increase zero emission truck trips to and from the Port to 50% including 100% of the trucks to and from the near dock rail yards through the development of an action plan to be completed by 2014.

This is an ambitious but necessary and achievable goal.  The key will be to make sure this goal really comes to life.  The Strategic Plan includes a robust vision for expansion of port facilities, so zero emissions trucks must be part of each and every project.  For example, the Port recently proposed developing a new railyard called the Southern California International Gateway Project.  To date, this rail project has failed to include a commitment to zero emission trucks.  My colleague Lizzeth Henao has addressed the flaws of this project.  Hopefully, the clear direction from the Board of Harbor Commissioners in its passage of the Strategic Plan will send a message to the Class 1 railroads that they need to require zero emissions trucks if they want to operate in this region. 

Overall, the sustainability provisions of the Port’s Strategic Plan provide hope for all port communities around the country that freight facilities can operate in a responsible manner that does not subsidize the nation’s appetite for products from abroad with community health.  I look forward to monitoring and participating in the plan development for this zero emissions truck program.  I am confident that the Port of Los Angeles can pull this off because it has demonstrated that it can achieve ambitious, comprehensive plans like the original Clean Trucks Program to rectify the harms the freight industry has exacted on residents.      

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Bill McLaughlinApr 21 2012 01:55 AM

Last I looked, ships burning dirty fuel were responsible for a large percentage of particulates. Yet I hear very little about reducing this source!

Adrian MartinezApr 25 2012 06:43 PM

This is a very good point. We need to really focus on the shipping sector to protect health of residents near the ports. Luckily the California Air Resources Board passed some health protective rules governing shipping fuels that some in the shipping industry have challenged in court. Our hope is these rules will survive this legal challenge. There has also been progress on the international level to ensure cleaner fuels for ships traveling near the coast. With that said, we need to really push this large sector of pollution to clean up its act.

Daniel FreedmanApr 28 2012 02:05 PM

Hopefully someone at the Port is on top of these two funding opportunities:

DOE Funding for Zero Emission Cargo Transport Demonstration

EPA: National Clean Diesel Funding Assistance Program

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