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American Shipper

Coalition offers plan to cut Southland port truck pollution

Coalition offers plan to cut Southland port truck pollution

   A coalition of labor, environmental, community and faith-based groups are the latest voice to join the fray over truck pollution at the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles.

   The Coalition for Clean and Safe Ports (CCSP) officially released a proposal Thursday it claims would cut truck pollution and improve working conditions for short-haul drivers at the nation's two busiest container ports.

   The group's plan calls for the two neighboring ports to set environmental, labor and security criteria for trucks. Under the plan, the ports would establish contracts with trucking companies allowing access to port property for those firms who agree to bring their fleets into line with the criteria.

   The plan also calls for the port to limit the contract offers to trucking companies that hire drivers as full employees and not under the independent contractor model.

   The port contracts, as envisioned by the CCSP, would only cover access and not involve contracting of trucks for movement of cargo. However, the port contracts would give signatory trucking companies exclusive drayage rights in the port areas. The CCSP claims this would allow trucking rates to rise and force shippers to pay the higher rates, leading to improved wages and working conditions for drivers.

   The CCSP plan calls for the truck fleets to meet the port established criteria over a five-year period. Each of the trucking companies the port signs up would be assessed a $5,000 annual fee that would reduce as the company's fleet is made cleaner. The companies would also pay a monthly fee to the ports based on gross revenues. These collected fees would pay for the administration and monitoring of the trucks.

   The two ports, as detailed in their Clean Air Action Plan adopted last year, have already adopted a truck replacement program to address the truck pollution issue. The $1.8 billion port plan will replace the estimated 15,000 short-haul trucks that service the ports with new cleaner vehicles. The ports explored options similar to the CCSP, but opted for the replacement program because it would replace 40 percent of the trucks with alternative fuel vehicles, effectively eliminating about 6,000 diesel trucks.

   The ports, however, have made it clear they are not officially married to the replacement program. The ports are establishing a group of industry and community representatives that will look at various options to clean up the port-servicing truck fleet. Final recommendations from the group are expected by the end of June.

   A similar plan, using taxi-style medallions, was proposed by transportation experts in January as a solution to cut truck pollution and raise wages for truck drivers working in the port of Vancouver.

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