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Congressmen seek funding for cleaner drayage trucks in New Jersey

Gov. Phil Murphy said he wants to help reduce diesel truck pollution at ports, calling it vital to disenfranchised communities surrounding the ports.

   Two congressmen from New Jersey with container terminals in their districts are asking N.J. Gov. Phil Murphy to help revive a program to help replace older, more polluting trucks that serve the Port of New York and New Jersey.
   The program funded up to half the cost of acquiring trucks with more modern trucks.
   “In 2010, the port authority announced an ambitious truck replacement program that would have prohibited vehicles not meeting 2007 federal emissions standards from operating at the port after January 1, 2017,” N.J. Democratic Reps. Donald M. Payne, Jr. and Albio Sires said in a letter to Murphy.
   “Ultimately, fewer than 500 trucks were replaced or retrofitted before the program was unceremoniously scaled back in 2016, supposedly due to budget constraints,” they said.
   There are about 7,000 drayage trucks that serve the port.
   They have asked the governor to “reconsider the port authority’s decision to abandon this critical program” under the leadership of Murphy’s predecessor, Chris Christie, saying the need for cleaner trucks has become more urgent, especially as cargo volumes are expected to grow now that the Bayonne Bridge has been raised to allow larger ships to call terminals in Newark and Elizabeth. The port authority funded the program using grant money.
   Payne and Sires also noted how funding for a program called Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement “has stalled due to ‘Buy America’ issues at the Trump-led Federal Highway Administration.”
   Payne also said, “Environmental injustice is a serious problem in Newark and other port communities. The impacts of diesel and other pollutants are making people, especially children, sick in communities around Port Newark-Elizabeth and Port Jersey Marine Terminals. By replacing outdated diesel trucks, the state of New Jersey can help alleviate the health crisis.”
   Dan Bryan, a spokesman for Gov. Murphy, said he “believes that reducing diesel
emissions at ports is vital to New Jersey’s public health, especially
disenfranchised communities surrounding the ports that bear the brunt of this pollution. He looks
forward to working with all parties to accomplish this goal.”

Chris Dupin

Chris Dupin has written about trade and transportation and other business subjects for a variety of publications before joining American Shipper and Freightwaves.