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American Shipper

Southern California ports continue funds for new trucks

Southern California ports continue funds for new trucks

The neighboring ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, the two busiest ports in the Western Hemisphere, are allocating an additional $6.3 million to a grant program that helps short-haul truckers serving the ports to replace older, dirtier diesel trucks with newer, less polluting vehicles.

   The new funds, which represent about 3.5 percent of the two ports combined net incomes of close to $200 million, will supplement $17 million in port funds allocated over the past four years to the Fleet Modernization Program operated by the Gateway Cities Council of Governments.

   The GCCG is a non-profit organization representing 27 Southeast Los Angeles County member cities at the regional, state and federal levels.

   The group's truck program, in effect since 2002, allows a qualifying commercial truck owner — willing to trade in an older diesel truck for a newer, cleaner model — to receive grant funding that pays for a large part of a 'replacement truck.' Owner-operators qualifying for the funding must demonstrate that they make hundreds of calls at San Pedro Bay Ports' cargo terminals each year. The new replacement trucks must continue to be used in port service, also known as container drayage, so that the emission reduction benefits of the cleaner rigs can be realized in nearby communities.

   To date, according to the Port of Los Angeles, the program has removed 530 older vehicles from the roadways. This equates to a reduction of more than 100 tons of NOx and 60 tons of diesel particulate emissions per year.

   The GCCG funding is considered a short-term measure by the ports, as they prepare a broader truck replacement plan that seeks to replace and/or retrofit more than 16,000 harbor trucks that represent 80 percent of the marine terminal calls in the two Southern California ports. The new plan, expected to be released in several weeks, will either replace old trucks with newer, cleaner diesel or alternative fuel rigs, or retrofit the old trucks with emission reducing devices. The exact funding mechanism available to truckers — grant, loan, or combination — has not been detailed.

   The two ports have come under intense local, regional and state pressure to reduce the diesel air pollution caused by marine terminal, rail, ship and truck operations. Health officials have connected diesel pollution to elevated cancer and asthma cases in the region.

   The dual port complex, including the vehicles that serve it, is the largest single point generator of diesel air pollution in the Southern California region.