A program bringing together four Mid-Atlantic states promises “to offer one of the nation's most generous programs aimed at replacing old, highly polluting trucks” by focusing on drayage vehicles that shuttle freight from four ports in the region to both warehouses and local stores.
Led by the University of Maryland (UMD) and the Mid-Atlantic Regional Air Management Assn. (MARAMA), the new program will seek to double the impact of a federal “cash-for-clunkers-style program” with public and voluntary private contributions.
The Mid-Atlantic Dray Truck Replacement Program will offer $15,000 to short-haul truckers to cover the down payment on a new vehicle. The program will also help arrange financing for these truckers.
Over the next two years, according to the organizers, the program could replace hundreds of the most polluting delivery trucks in the region.
"We no longer want our ports to be the place where old trucks go to die," said Joanne Throwe, director of the UMD Maryland Environmental Finance Center, which is coordinating the new effort. "It's not just the air around the port that suffers-- it's the routes the trucks follow throughout the region."
The Ports of Virginia, Baltimore, Wilmington and Philadelphia, with support from their respective States, are chipping in monies to boost the $3.3 million base grant awarded by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Private industry has also expressed interest in supporting the effort financially.
All together, the program will match the EPA support dollar-for-dollar with a combination of public and private money. Already, the organizers have lined up more than $400,000 in public support. More is pending, and they are expecting financial commitments from the industry as well.
In the first year, UMD’s Throwe hopes to raise approximately $1.5 million in public and private money to extend the impact of the EPA grant.
As an example of the private enthusiasm the organizers hope to tap, Throwe pointed to a recent announcement by EPA and the Coalition for Responsible Transportation (CRT), whose members make up some of the largest shippers and distributers from around the country. CRT will contribute financially to help extend EPA dray-replacements nationwide.
"Businesses along the supply chain understand that they and their employees benefit by maintaining as clean a footprint as possible," Throwe said. "Helping truck drivers-- mainly [drawn] from small businesses-- to afford cleaner, greener trucks is a goal the private sector can embrace."
"This is a great example of how a government and industry partnership should work,” said Louis Campion, president of the Maryland Motor Truck Assn. “The program goals are admirable-- reducing emissions from mobile sources at the Mid-Atlantic ports to promote clean air for everyone's benefit. And the government is giving private industry the tools needed to achieve those objectives.”
The Mid-Atlantic program is based on other clean truck efforts around the country, including programs at the Ports of Los Angeles, Long Beach, Oakland, Seattle, Tacoma, Virginia, Houston as well as more recently, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.
Of all these programs, the Mid-Atlantic is the only one using a multi-state collaboration designed to boost the level of financial support to truckers, the organizers stressed.
The Port of Virginia was the first to open its own dray replacement initiative - the Green Operator Program - to the Mid-Atlantic partnership (this March). The Port is leveraging the new regional effort with a $300,000 contribution. Virginia has a waiting list of approximately 150 applicants, with 24 applications ready to receive approval for funding.
The Port of Baltimore anticipates contributing financially as well. Over 75 short-haul truckers operating at that port have expressed interest in applying for replacement support, the program organizers noted.
And the Ports of Philadelphia and Wilmington are set to open their replacement initiative in July, but already have had considerable interest from dozens of carriers and sponsors, according to UMD.