The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Jessica Lass at 310-434-2300 (main), 202-468-6718

LA Ports Meet Clean Air Goals Years Ahead of Schedule

Clean Truck Fleet Key to Ending Diesel Death Zone in Ports of Los Angeles, Long Beach


Today, a year after the Clean Truck Programs (CTP) launched at the
ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, more than 2,000 polluting trucks
are off the road and more than 5,500 clean trucks are in operation.
The ports are two years ahead of their goal to reduce truck-produced
emissions by 80%, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council

"Los Angeles is home to the worst air pollution
in the country, which plays a role in thousands of heart attacks,
respiratory ailments and deaths every year," said David Pettit, senior
attorney with NRDC. "Knowing those statistics, the Port of Los Angeles
decided to take proactive and permanent action to reduce those deaths
and invest in sustainable jobs at the ports. Today, hundreds of lives
will have been saved and thousands of children will not contract asthma
or chronic respiratory disease in Los Angeles thanks to the clean truck
programs enacted one year ago by the Ports of Los Angeles and Long

Diesel particulate matter is associated with
heart attacks, asthma, chronic bronchitis, premature mortality,
increased cancer risk and other serious health ailments. Children and
the elderly are particularly susceptible to these health risks. In
fact, prior to the ports' adoption of the program, the port trucking
system imposed up to $1.7 billion of costs on the public every year in
the form of operational inefficiencies, community impacts and, above
all, impacts on public health.

"Before the program,
diesel trucks that serviced the ports were some of the oldest and most
polluting trucks on the road and were the largest source of on-shore
diesel particulate matter in California," said Melissa Lin Perrella,
staff attorney, NRDC. "Now, thousands of those trucks are running
cleaner and producing far less diesel pollution responsible for
claiming hundreds of lives."

Over the course of less
than one year, the CTP has significantly reduced air pollution at the
ports and in communities along freight transportation corridors-so much
so that the ports' goal of reducing truck emissions by 80% by 2012 will
likely be achieved by next year. This is the only program at the ports
that has effectively reduced air pollution from port trucking.


Clean Truck Programs are designed to significantly reduce truck-related
emissions and manage and maintain these trucks long-term. Ports around
the country recognize the need for a sustainable trucking workforce and
are mobilizing to implement clean truck programs locally. The Port of
Oakland is banning dirty trucks starting this fall, and New York and
New Jersey ports are also working with their local Harbor Commissions
to introduce similar clean truck programs.

An estimated
$1.6 billion dollars is invested to replace an aging fleet of 17,000
trucks with newer, cleaner vehicles at the ports of Los Angeles and
Long Beach before 2012. In February, the ports began collecting a $35
container fee applied to each 20-foot container to offset financing
costs to purchase the clean trucks. Both ports expect the fund created
by the $35 fee will allow them to subsidize up to 80 percent of each
new truck.

In April, U.S. District Court Judge Christina
A. Snyder denied a request by the American Trucking Association (ATA)
to grant a preliminary injunction that would have devastated the clean
truck plans. Although a provision of the Port of Los Angeles plan
requiring a phase-in of employee drivers rather than independent
owner-operators was put on hold pending a February, 2010 trial, the
requirements that port-serving trucks be safe and adequately maintained
were upheld. The requirement that trucks meet stringent emissions
limits and the funding mechanism set up by the ports to replace the
17,000 old, dirty trucks that carry cargo to and from Long Beach and
San Pedro are also intact.

Nevertheless, ATA's lawsuit
threatens the long-term success of the program. ATA asserts that the
outdated Federal Aviation Administration Authorization Act (FAAAA) of
1994 prevents ports from requiring that licensed motor carriers meet
minimal safety, environment and security-based standards if they want
to access port property.

The ports, NRDC, Sierra Club
and the Coalition for Clean Air continue to fight ATA's lawsuit in
federal court, and are working with federal legislators to update the
FAAAA to protect the Clean Truck Programs and the ability of ports
across the country to adopt similar long-term clean air strategies.

Clean Truck Programs are part of a larger Clean Air Action Plan
currently underway by the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach in an
effort to expand the ports' business operations and also reduce harmful
air pollution impacts on the local port community and environment. The
ports have numerous expansion projects planned during the next several
years and some experts expect to see port commerce double or triple by

Relevant Links:

Read David Pettit's blog on port air pollution:

Read Melissa Lin Perrella's blog at:

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