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Adrian Martinez’s Blog

Weather Forecast--Sky Still Up There: Ports of LA and Long Beach Start Clean Trucks Programs

Adrian Martinez

Posted October 1, 2008 in Curbing Pollution, Environmental Justice, Health and the Environment

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Today marks an historic day for Southern California residents.  The ports of Los Angeles and Long  Beach started their clean trucks programs, which will pay huge dividends to the health of harbor area residents.  Today, some of the oldest, most polluting trucks have been barred from port service.  Over the next five years, all the old trucks that service the ports will be phased out to be replaced by newer, cleaner trucks.  With some of the filthiest air in the entire Los Angeles region, this could not have come sooner for harbor area residents.    

It's been longer than two years since the ports debated, studied, considered, and adopted programs to clean up the significant air pollution from trucks.  Today, the rubber hit the road with the first major step in cleaning up port truck pollution. There have been naysayers along the way, including most prominently, the American Trucking Associations.  As industry doomsday predictions of harbor area mayhem, goblins roaming throughout Wilmington, San Pedro, and Long Beach, and the sky falling, ran rampant throughout this debate, we are confident that the harbor area is safe today and the air will be cleaner tomorrow. 

Just to be sure the streets are safe and witness the first day of the truck plan for myself, I attended a press conference at the Port of LA and was able to see some of the new, cleaner trucks that will be commonplace in the harbor area.  And that folks, is the bottom line. Literally starting today, thousands of the dirtiest diesel-polluting trucks are not allowed on port property. They aren't welcome and by scrapping them, they won't be welcome to pollute anywhere else. The air will be cleaner, residents will breathe easier and port business will move forward into the 21st century.

Finally, the Port of Los Angeles and Mayor Villaraigosa deserve a lot of credit for implementing a sustainable truck program that will ensure better operations at the ports.   Of course, there will continue to be naysayers and industry litigation aimed at obstructing clean-up programs if it affects their profit line, but, we must keep in mind that the opposition is vastly outnumbered compared to the immense support from residents, environmental, environmental justice, faith-based and labor groups standing behind the forward-looking, comprehensive LA policy.

It is a business model that will allow responsible companies to prosper, and is a key part of paving the way for port growth - minus the new cases of asthma, respiratory illnesses and premature death related to diesel air pollution. My clients, colleagues, friends and port drivers in the harbor area have borne these costs for too long, and they are closing up their lending business that depreciates their health once and for all.       

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