EPA Wants Cuts in Port Emissions; LA's Plan Still Murky

A sweeping plan to reduce diesel emissions from trucks serving the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach is proving difficult to finalize, even as EPA announces tougher emission standards today and has a new action plan to reduce environmental impacts caused when goods move through the nation's public ports. The Boston Consulting Group (BCC) presented its analysis of the California ports' Clean Truck Program on March 6, and the final recommendations of the Port of Los Angeles may be presented to the Los Angeles Harbor Commission as early as March 20. BCC recommended a unified LA/Long Beach approach, but it also said the basic plan Long Beach has adopted will not be as beneficial as an enhanced, market-incentive model would be.

BCC's report said about 40,800 trucks move freight through the two ports, with about 2,000 of the 16,800 trucks that visit frequently having been manufactured prior to 1989 -- meaning they will be targeted by the Clean Truck Program, which aims to reduce diesel particulate matter emissions by 47 percent by 2011 by banning the oldest trucks. The trucks plan is the first phase of a larger clean air plan for the ports that includes reduced emissions by every category of port-related emissions sources -- ships, trucks, trains, cargo-handling equipment, and harbor craft. At least 85 percent of the drayage drivers who move goods through the LA port are independent owner operators, and an estimated 15-22 percent of them are ineligible to obtain the DHS transportation worker identification credential as required, according to the BCC report, which says LA may lose some container traffic volume and truckers to Long Beach if LA adopts the market-incentive model.

EPA's administrator, Stephen Johnson, is scheduled to announce something very similar to the ports' plan today at the Port of Houston Authority at a news conference with officials from that port, the Association of American Railroads, and the Engine Manufacturers Association. EPA said Johnson will announce "major cuts" in diesel particulates and nitrogen oxides as he signs a clean air locomotives and marine diesel rule. EPA's new ports plan focuses on six themes: clean air and affordable energy, clean and safe water, healthy communities and eco-systems, global environment, ports communications, and enforcement. EPA said the plan complements guiding principles on port sustainability issued by the American Association of Port Authorities; EPA will work with AAPA, port authorities, private port operators, transportation supply and logistics companies, government agencies, states, and other interested parties to promote sustainable practices at ports and related operations. "By working collaboratively with ports, shippers, and others on shared stewardship goals, we can protect the environment, the people living and working around port operations, and the vitality of a key sector of our economy," said Marcus Peacock, EPA's deputy administrator.

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