An Easy Way to Get Dirty Diesel Trucks Off Our Roads

The Ports are making it way too hard for trucking fleets to transition to clean trucks. They keep changing their policy plans. They keep delaying their policy plans. They keep confusing industry. They keep blaming others like the California Air Resources Board, South Coast AQMD, and the beneficial cargo owners that ship the goods. The bottom line is that trucking fleets cannot make a decision on clean trucks until there are clear policies in place that set the ground rules. The policies need to level the playing field so that clean trucks are more easily accessible than used diesel trucks. These used diesel port trucks are the #2 source of smog-forming NOx emissions in the Ports. Smog causes respiratory illness throughout Southern California. Diesel port trucks are also the #1 source of climate pollutants from port operations. We all know what is happening to our planet from climate pollutants. Ironically, the ports are at the frontline of impacts from climate change. They have the most to lose if climate change is not reversed. Their best economic interests are served by doing more to reduce climate pollutants.

So why is it so hard for the ports to put in place a policy that transitions to clean trucks? The 2017 Clean Air Action Plan (CAAP) Update committed to have this policy in place and begin in “early 2020.” Here we are, in early 2020. All the ports need to do is adopt the following provisions to become effective immediately:

  1. Require newly registered port trucks to meet the CARB near-zero NOx standard of 0.02 or have zero tailpipe emissions.
  2. Adopt a container fee that motivates change in the market as promised by the CAAP. The ports have floated a $10 fee. We think the fee needs to be $50.
  3. Exempt near-zero and zero emissions trucks from the container fee for the life of the truck.
  4. Use the money collected from container fees to incentivize the purchase of near-zero and zero emission trucks.

These policies will transition diesel port trucks to clean trucks starting this year. We don’t have time to waste. Our community health and the planet can’t wait. We need to End Diesel Now!

We need zero-emission trucks now

The Clean Truck Rate is the quickest, most effective way to clean the air in Southern California. But it’s just one component to replacing dirty diesel trucks with clean trucks. There are other steps the Ports can take to help guide this transition.

For instance, the Ports can leverage the Drayage Truck Registry to assist in phasing-out diesel trucks.

Currently, the Clean Air Action Plan includes the following transition dates:

October 1, 2018 – Only model year 2014 trucks can be newly registered in the Drayage Truck Registry. Trucks already in the Registry can continue operating, including the 8,000 pre-2010 trucks.

January 1, 2023 – Pre-2010 trucks will be banned by the California Air Resources Board on this date, and only “Near-Zero” trucks can be newly registered in the Registry. All other trucks in the Registry can continue operating at the Ports. (This means that those 8,000 diesel trucks will no longer be allowed to operate at the Ports.)

January 1, 2035 – Only Zero-Emission trucks may be in the Registry and operate in the Ports.

The way the January 1, 2023 date is currently written it would allow old diesel trucks to be replaced with newer used diesel trucks at a lower cost than clean trucks. By fixing the Near-Zero definition and moving up the Drayage Registry cutoff date from January 1, 2023 to match the date for the implementation of the new Clean Truck Rate, the Ports will ensure that no more new or used diesel trucks will be added to the Registry.

This is about providing consistent guidance to truckers and cargo owners and avoiding any loopholes that would allow diesel trucks to remain on our roads.

This is the most significant action the Ports can take to phase out diesel trucks and improve air quality, public health, and fight climate pollution.

CALL TO ACTION:

Call L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti and tell him to support a $50 Clean Truck Rate
PHONE: (213) 978-0600
EMAIL: Ana.Guerrero@lacity.org, Chief of Staff, Mayor Garcetti

Call Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia and tell him to support a $50 Clean Truck Rate
PHONE: (562) 570-6801
EMAIL: Diana.Tang@longbeach.gov, Chief of Staff, Mayor Garcia

Cargo owners opposition to fee

For all of the talk about the Clean Truck Rate and what it could mean to help our communities with cleaner air, no one has spent much time focusing on just who will pay the fee. The answer is cargo owners who move goods through the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach.

They’re household names — Amazon, Wal-Mart, Target.

And so far, cargo owners have opposed the fee.

In a public comment letter submitted to the Port of Long Beach in January, Target, the country’s eighth largest retailer, argued that literally any fee would be “substantial” and the proposed $10 fee is “unfairly punitive.” The company argued that there are not many near-zero emission vehicle options and that that’s why it is unfair to the company.

What about what is unfair to families living in Southern California?

Southern California has improved its air quality but we still have a long way to go. In 2019, the region set a new record for how many days it violated federal smog standards. And one of the key reasons is diesel particulate matter (DPM) pollution from the diesel trucks in goods movement and trade sector.

Living near the ports and freeways puts our families at elevated risks for asthma, lung disease and cancer. As public entities, the ports have a duty to protect the public — not just the commercial interests. And if major corporations are to live up to their commitments as good corporate citizens, then they need to do their part to clean the air, as well.

In its comment letter, Target argued there is “little need of such an urgent roll out of this fee” given the limited availability of clean trucks. No need for urgency? Cargo owners have known since at the least the last CAAP update in 2017 that there would be a Clean Truck Rate in 2020.

According to IQ Air: “While the Coronavirus is dominating international headlines, a silent killer is contributing to nearly 7 million more deaths a year: air pollution.

Approving a $50 Clean Truck Rate is the quickest and most efficient way to clean the air in Southern California. A fee that motivates cargo owners to move to cleaner trucks has the power to dramatically improve health outcomes for children living in our region. And companies like Target should get on board.

CALL TO ACTION:

Call L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti and tell him to support a $50 Clean Truck Rate
PHONE: (213) 978-0600
EMAIL: Ana.Guerrero@lacity.org, Chief of Staff, Mayor Garcetti

Call Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia and tell him to support a $50 Clean Truck Rate
PHONE: (562) 570-6801
EMAIL: Diana.Tang@longbeach.gov, Chief of Staff, Mayor Garcia

Price tag on your health

It is utterly inconceivable to us that leadership at the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach truly believe that for just $10 or $20 a container, we can clean up some of the worst pollution in Southern California.

When the first Clean Truck Rate was implemented more than a decade ago, the fee was $35 a TEU — and it was a success. Compared to 2005, heavy-duty truck emissions have been reduced by 97 percent for Diesel Particulate Matter (DPM), 78 percent for Nitrogen Oxides (NOx), and 92 percent for Sulfur Oxides (SOx).

Now that the ports have another opportunity to impose a rate that will motivate truckers and cargo owners, like Wal-Mart and Amazon, to move to cleaner trucks, leadership is saying they cannot afford to do anything that would threaten to move discretionary cargo to other ports. That is, the ports say they don’t want Chicago’s cargo to be diverted to New York, Savannah or Houston. We believe that is just an excuse.

A draft economic impact report from the two ports found a Clean Truck Rate between $5 and $75 would ultimately reduce the ports’ growth by up to 1.4 percent. Note that cargo volume at the ports would continue to grow, just not quite as fast as if there was no Clean Truck Rate at all. So why is the proposed fee just $10? The ports’ own economic study supports a higher fee.

The ports want to cry foul because they’ve lost marketshare over the past 15 years. What they fail to mention is that in recent years they’ve moved record levels of cargo through the San Pedro Bay Port Complex.

Port leadership claims it tried to balance environmental and business concerns when drafting this proposal however, there is no balance here. The only consideration has been to keep prices low on major corporations while the families living in Long Beach, San Pedro, Wilmington and along the Long Beach (710) Freeway continue to suffer. A more balanced approach would have landed on $50 — enough to motivate change and keep cargo in Los Angeles and Long Beach.

The ports are literally putting a price on the health of our communities. Their proposal says their lives aren’t worth more than 10 bucks a TEU. Yet, just in the last week, Amazon’s Jeff Bezos set a new state record by spending $165 million on a house. Days later he announced plans to spend $10 billion — BILLION — to address climate change.

Are we really supposed to believe Amazon can’t afford $10 to clean the air? The math just doesn’t add up.

CALL TO ACTION:

Call L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti and tell him to support a $50 Clean Truck Rate
PHONE: (213) 978-0600
EMAIL: Ana.Guerrero@lacity.org, Chief of Staff, Mayor Garcetti

Call Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia and tell him to support a $50 Clean Truck Rate
PHONE: (562) 570-6801
EMAIL: Diana.Tang@longbeach.gov, Chief of Staff, Mayor Garcia

The urgent need to reduce GHG emissions

Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia is serious about climate change. He’s made the region’s rising temperatures a top priority, and focused on solar energy and electrification.

So why isn’t he doing more about greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions at the Port of Long Beach?

Thousands of diesel trucks service the port every day. These diesel trucks are the largest source of GHG emissions from port businesses. And along the way, they spew diesel particulate matter that contributes to a range of health problems, from asthma to lung disease to cancer. This pollution impacts the development of our children’s lungs and the life expectancy of our seniors. The Mayor’s Harbor Commissioners will soon have the opportunity to impose a fee on these dirty trucks. Right now, it looks like the Commissioners might let the Mayor down and impose a meaningless fee.

Mayor Garcia is a leader on fighting Long Beach’s rising temperatures and the impacts they have on communities with a lot asphalt but not much green space. On the subject of the environment, the Mayor has said: “Climate change is the single greatest long term threat to our planet.

We applaud the Mayor’s past comments on the issue of climate change and hope that he speaks out about the ports’ Clean Truck Rate of only $10. Imposing a $50 fee on old diesel trucks is the fastest way to motivate a switch toward cleaner fuel vehicles. The fee needs to be high enough to motivate action and generate funds to ease the transition to near-zero and zero emission vehicles. As many as 8,000 trucks could be replaced in the next few years and that would have a significant and dramatic effect the air quality of southeast Los Angeles County.

The City of Long Beach is in many ways a leader in addressing climate change. Its Climate Action and Adaption Plan is intended to reduce GHG emissions, prepare the community for the impacts of climate change and improve the quality of life. In 2018, Long Beach launched the Green Business Certification program, which provides guidance on energy and water conservation. And the Mayor has focused on building bike lanes and public transit options that encourage residents to get out of their cars.

When it comes to addressing climate change, the Mayor has said, “If you’re not a little bit aspirational then no one will ever get there.

We couldn’t agree more, and hope the Mayor will support a Clean Truck Rate that will actually do something to address the issue of our time.

CALL TO ACTION:

Call L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti and tell him to support a $50 Clean Truck Rate
PHONE: (213) 978-0600
EMAIL: Ana.Guerrero@lacity.org, Chief of Staff, Mayor Garcetti

Call Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia and tell him to support a $50 Clean Truck Rate
PHONE: (562) 570-6801
EMAIL: Diana.Tang@longbeach.gov, Chief of Staff, Mayor Garcia

Talk is cheap!

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti says he believes immediate action is needed to address the impact of climate change.

We couldn’t agree more.

So why don’t his actions back up his words?

In just the last week, the Mayor said, “We must act this decade to save the planet and create a more equitable, prosperous and healthy future for our children and grandchildren … There is literally no time to waste because what we do in the next 10 years will determine the health of our planet and whether there’s a job, a paycheck and a place for everyone in our economy,

We would like to amend the Mayor’s comments to make clear that what we do in the next month will determine the health of our planet — and our people.

Members of the Los Angeles Harbor Commission, who are appointed by the Mayor, are scheduled to vote on Feb. 20 to approve a Clean Truck Rate that, if done correctly, could replace thousands of dirty, pollution-spewing diesel trucks from the roads. Unfortunately, the proposal that is before the Harbor Commission will not do anything to clean the air. At $10 per TEU, the fee is too low to motivate drivers and companies to switch to cleaner fuel alternatives.

We have to ask: Why is Mayor Garcetti supporting a policy to keep diesel-powered trucks on the road?

In supporting the Clean Air Action Plan in 2017, Garcetti said: “Washington may not care about clean air or think that environmental justice for people who live near our ports is anything to be concerned about, but you can be damn sure that we do.

Yet, here’s the reality: President Donald Trump loves trying to roll back California’s high environmental standards. Here is an opportunity to set another high standard — and the Port is going to miss the opportunity in favor of protecting business interests. That sounds like something the Trump Administration would do. Why is Garcetti taking a page out of Trump’s playbook?

Mayor Garcetti wants to be known as a mayor who has taken on the challenge of our time. He gets positive headlines for things like signing the Green New Deal and calling for a zero emission port. But when it comes to actually implementing policy, his leadership is nowhere to be found. How can he say that the future of our earth is in our hands while he turns his back on the thousands of families choking on diesel exhaust from the ports?

Words don’t matter.

Actions do.

CALL TO ACTION:

Call L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti and tell him to support a $50 Clean Truck Rate
PHONE: (213) 978-0600
EMAIL: Ana.Guerrero@lacity.org, Chief of Staff, Mayor Garcetti

Call Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia and tell him to support a $50 Clean Truck Rate
PHONE: (562) 570-6801
EMAIL: Diana.Tang@longbeach.gov, Chief of Staff, Mayor Garcia

 

If you can attend one or both of the Harbor Commission meetings to express your support for a $50 Clean Truck Rate and the need to End Diesel Now, here is the info:

Los Angeles Board of Harbor Commission meeting
Thursday, Feb. 20th at 9 a.m.
Port of Los Angeles Administration Building
425 S. Palos Verdes St.,
San Pedro 90731.
If you cannot attend, it will be livestreamed on the web here.

Long Beach Board of Harbor Commission meeting
Monday, Feb. 24th at 1:30 p.m.
Long Beach City Hall, Bob Foster Civic Chambers
411 W. Ocean Blvd.
Long Beach 90802
If you cannot attend, it will be livestreamed on the web here.

Will our leaders rise to the occasion?

This month, the Harbor Commissions in Los Angeles and Long Beach will have the opportunity to take thousands of diesel trucks off the road. In order to do this, the commissioners and elected officials will have to stand up to business interests who fight tooth and nail against any policy that could have the slightest impact to their bottom line — even when it means continuing to pollute our communities. Will our leaders rise to the occasion?

They should — if for no other reason than history tells them that a fee on dirty diesel trucks can have a transformational impact on the pollution that chokes communities near the ports and along the freeways.

In 2008, under the original Clean Air Action Plan (CAAP), the ports used a $35 dirty truck fee and progressive ban on old trucks to motivate cleaner trucks. These policies reduced air pollution from harbor trucks by more than 90 percent in a little more than three years. It’s an incredible achievement and one that the ports rightly deserve kudos.

When the CAAP was updated in 2017, it was agreed that beginning in 2020, a fee would be charged on all trucks entering the terminal areas. Trucks that meet near-zero or zero-emission standards would be exempt. The purpose of this fee is to encourage truckers and BCOs (like Wal-Mart and Amazon) to deploy clean fuel trucks that are exempt from the fee. The fee would also generate funds for incentives toward newer, cleaner trucks. But it only works if the fee is costly enough to motivate change.

The proposal that is currently on the table is $10 per TEU. Does anyone believe that for a mere $10 — the price of two lattes —can clean the air? The first truck fee was $35 per TEU. Why are the ports going backward?

We know from experience that this fee can force the industry to make cleaner choices virtually overnight. And cleaner trucks mean lower rates of asthma, respiratory disease and cancer for our families.

Will Los Angeles’ and Long Beach’s leaders rise to the occasion and do what is right?

 

CALL TO ACTION:

Call L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti and tell him to support a $50 Clean Truck Rate
PHONE: (213) 978-0600
EMAIL: Ana.Guerrero@lacity.org, Chief of Staff, Mayor Garcetti

Call Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia and tell him to support a $50 Clean Truck Rate
PHONE: (562) 570-6801
EMAIL: Diana.Tang@longbeach.gov, Chief of Staff, Mayor Garcia

 

If you can attend one or both of the Harbor Commission meetings to express your support for a $50 Clean Truck Rate and the need to End Diesel Now, here is the info:

Los Angeles Board of Harbor Commission meeting
Thursday, Feb. 20th at 9 a.m.
Port of Los Angeles Administration Building
425 S. Palos Verdes St.,
San Pedro 90731.
If you cannot attend, it will be livestreamed on the web here.

Long Beach Board of Harbor Commission meeting
Monday, Feb. 24th at 1:30 p.m.
Long Beach City Hall, Bob Foster Civic Chambers
411 W. Ocean Blvd.
Long Beach 90802
If you cannot attend, it will be livestreamed on the web here.

Cough, cough, cough

Cough, cough, cough.

That’s the sound heard along the Long Beach (710) Freeway, where thousands of trucks ramble through every day — picking up cargo from the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach and hauling it to communities along the 710, South LA, out to the Inland Empire and beyond. The diesel exhaust from these trucks is choking San Pedro, Wilmington, Long Beach and the communities of southeast L.A. County.

Despite decades of progress, Southern California still has the dirtiest, most polluted air in America.

It is estimated that approximately 70 percent of total known cancer risk related to air toxins in the state of California is attributable to diesel particulate matter. Between 2010 and 2017, researchers found a 10 percent increase in deaths attributable to ozone pollution, the Los Angeles Times reported last year.

It’s no coincidence that Los Angeles has seen a dramatic increase in asthma rates over the last three decades. Asthma is the most prevalent chronic disease among children and it’s the leading cause of children’s visits to hospital emergency rooms.

Southern California’s air quality is a clear and present danger to families living near our ports and freeways.

Politicians have long made plans intended to clean the air. The Green New Deal. Executive Directives. The Clean Air Action Plan.

More than a decade ago, the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach approved the Clean Air Action Plan (CAAP) — a bold vision to reduce emissions while maintaining the region’s competitive edge in moving vast amounts of cargo. The CAAP and its 2017 update recognized that port operations generate “toxic air emissions” that can negatively impact health by:

  • Aggravating respiratory and cardiovascular disease
  • Reducing lung function
  • Increasing the severity and frequency of respiratory symptoms such as coughing and difficult breathing
  • Impacting the nervous system, including the brain
  • Increasing the risk of cancer

This month, Harbor Commissioners from both ports will have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to get diesel trucks off the road. There are 8,000 old diesel trucks that will be banned by state law at the end of 2022. These old diesel trucks will be replaced by other used diesel trucks unless the Harbor Commissioners impose a high enough truck fee, called a Clean Truck Rate, to encourage clean trucks.

A Clean Truck Rate that imposes a meaningful fee on diesel trucks would encourage truckers and the major retailers (like Amazon, WalMart, Target and Home Depot) to move toward clean non-diesel trucks. But in order for this to be effective, the rate needs to be high enough that it makes economic sense to use a clean truck. Breathe LA and the Coalition for Clean Air support a $50 rate that will help get many of the 8,000 old diesel trucks off our roads and replaced by clean trucks. It is the single most important thing the ports can do to have an immediate impact on our air quality and on climate change.

The Harbor Commissions of Los Angeles and Long Beach are scheduled to adopt the Clean Truck Rate on Feb. 20 and Feb. 24, respectively. it’s time to demand cleaner air and make your voice heard.

 

CALL TO ACTION:

Call L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti and tell him to support a $50 Clean Truck Rate
PHONE: (213) 978-0600
EMAIL: Ana.Guerrero@lacity.org, Chief of Staff, Mayor Garcetti

Call Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia and tell him to support a $50 Clean Truck Rate
PHONE: (562) 570-6801
EMAIL: Diana.Tang@longbeach.gov, Chief of Staff, Mayor Garcia

 

If you can attend one or both of the Harbor Commission meetings to express your support for a $50 Clean Truck Rate and the need to End Diesel Now, here is the info:

Los Angeles Board of Harbor Commission meeting
Thursday, Feb. 20th at 9 a.m.
Port of Los Angeles Administration Building
425 S. Palos Verdes St.,
San Pedro 90731.
If you cannot attend, it will be livestreamed on the web here.

Long Beach Board of Harbor Commission meeting
Monday, Feb. 24th at 1:30 p.m.
Long Beach City Hall, Bob Foster Civic Chambers
411 W. Ocean Blvd.
Long Beach 90802
If you cannot attend, it will be livestreamed on the web here.