West Coast Truckers Threaten Stoppage Over Emission Regs

A motor carriers' petition in which companies warn of a general work stoppage at the Port of Oakland has been delivered to Governor Jerry Brown. Local truckers propose a shutdown of all cargo movements at the Port should the California Air Resources Board (CARB) not be forthcoming with requested relief from the next phase of State emissions controls.

On May 16 motor carriers at the Port of Oakland under the banner of trade association West State Alliance sent a petition to CARB condemning a December, 2010 decision not to adopt proposed amendments to the drayage truck rule. Of particular concern is the Phase II regulation that mandates compliance with standards for NOx reduction in diesel exhaust starting in 2014. This measure affects some 4,400 local drayage trucks, or approximately 75% of the total Port fleet, according to local authorities.

Port truckers say they are prepared to assume the cost burden of purchasing PM filters for 2004-2006 engine model trucks required under Phase I of the drayage rule, but only if they are assured these trucks will remain legal until 2020. The proposal to extend the NOx emissions deadline an additional six years, from 2014 until 2020, was shot down by CARB in its decision to leave the schedule as it is. This now leaves Port truckers with a short window of emissions compliance before having to incur the expense of NOx equipment upgrades. Furthermore, according to the West State Alliance, there are no after-market NOx emissions reduction filters readily available for diesel trucks to meet ARB emissions standards.

“Come 2014, owners of 1994-2006 engine model year trucks are left with no other option than to dispose of their tractors outside the Port and replace them with 2007 or newer models,” states an Alliance press release. “Current prices range upward of $65,000 for a used truck, and a scarce supply is rapidly depleting the market of available equipment.”

Among the reasons cited by Port truckers to delay the NOx reduction schedule is a 2010 Air District (BAAQMD) study that found an unanticipated 40% reduction in NOx emissions at the Port due to replacement of many older polluting trucks resulting from Phase I equipment upgrades. Thus, Port of Oakland trucks are already well on their way to significant reductions in NOx emissions without need of imposing the 2014 deadline, the Alliance claims.

“Furthermore, Phase I of the drayage truck rule already placed a heavy financial burden on Port truckers,” the Alliance concluded. “Many went out of business, many incurred high-interest loans and large amounts of debt, and state grants were grossly insufficient in number and size to help the majority of truck owners. The seventeen signatories to petition the ARB say that in meeting Phase I requirements of the drayage truck rule they have done their fair share and more to shoulder the burden of state clean air regulations. Now, they say, the City of Oakland ‘can ill afford the certain loss of jobs on the local economy and the devastating social and health impacts that will result from the mandated obsolescence of 4,400 trucks.’”

In a written statement to the ARB on June 3, Oakland City Council Member At large Rebecca Kaplan asked that the ARB defer Phase II of drayage truck compliance by a length of time no less than the length of time that non-Port truckers are being extended, and for the ARB to commit to resolving the issue of the lack of funding for implementation, and to commit to resolving the issue of the non-existence of the required NOx filter, by a time well before the deadline for that phase of implementation.

Signatories to the petition include:
AB Trucking, Bay Area Container, Fargo Trucking, GSC Logistics, Horizon Freight System, Impact Transportation, Kamal Trucking, Lengner & Sons Express, Mason Dixon Intermodal, Mutual Express, PCC Logistics, Quintero Trucking, Rodgers Trucking, Stockmyer Trucking, VA Transportation, Viper Transportation and Yardell Truckaway.

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