A decade ago, smoke-belching trucks rolled into the Port of Long Beach, spewing harmful diesel particulates into the air and throughout surrounding neighborhoods.
To transform the truck fleet and work toward ending unhealthful conditions, the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles enacted their landmark Clean Trucks Program on Oct. 1, 2008, ushering in a green port era.
The ports banned pre-2007 big-rigs from the San Pedro Bay port complex, resulting in a 97 percent reduction in toxic diesel particulate matter emissions from trucks, according to the most recent air quality reports.
The modernizing of the port trucking fleet also led to significant reductions in all truck-related pollution, with a 79 percent decline in smog-forming nitrogen oxides, while sulfur oxides have plummeted 91 percent and greenhouse gas emissions are down 24 percent. The ports’ Clean Air Action Plan has also cut emissions from ships, locomotives, container yard equipment and harbor craft like tugboats.
“We’ve been far more successful than anyone could foresee, thanks to the work of our incredible staff and our industry’s investment and commitment to cleaner air,” said Tracy Egoscue, President of the Long Beach Board of Harbor Commissioners. “Now we’re moving ahead with still more ambitious goals.”
Coinciding with its 10th anniversary, the next generation of the Clean Trucks Program started Oct. 1, 2018, when new trucks entering service at the Port of Long Beach and the Port of Los Angeles are required to be model year 2014 or newer.
The new requirement applies only to trucks that are newly joining the Port Drayage Truck Registry. Trucks already registered as of Sept. 30 will be allowed to continue operating at the ports, as long as they are current on their annual dues and compliant with emission regulations set by the California Air Resources Board.
The new tariff requirement is the first in a series of steps the ports are taking to advance clean truck progress under the 2017 CAAP Update, approved last November. New strategies seek to phase out older trucks, with a goal of transitioning to zero-emission trucks by 2035.
“It’s a great anniversary for us because we’re breathing cleaner air and we have cleaner trucks going up and down the 710 Freeway,” said Port of Long Beach Executive Director Mario Cordero, who served on the Long Beach Board of Harbor Commissioners when the Clean Trucks Program was crafted and enacted 10 years ago. “Now we have a bigger challenge ahead of us to demonstrate that it’s feasible to bring zero-emission trucks here by 2035.”
The ports are actively advocating for the use of state and federal funds, including funds from the VW settlement and cap and trade funds to assist industry in moving to zero-emissions trucks and cargo-handling equipment.
On the horizon, the Board of Harbor Commissioners may waive the annual Clean Trucks Program registration rate for near-zero and zero emissions trucks. Also, the Board may charge a rate for cargo moves by trucks, but exempt for those meeting near-zero and zero emissions standards. The ports will conduct a truck rate study and feasibility assessments prior to proposing rate changes. About 17,000 trucks are registered to work in the San Pedro Bay port complex.