Backlash grows against California port emission plan

Oct. 3, 2007
The National Industrial Transportation League (NITL) and the Pacific Merchant Shipping Association (PMSA) are calling on the Federal Maritime Commission (FMC)

The National Industrial Transportation League (NITL) and the Pacific Merchant Shipping Association (PMSA) are calling on the Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) to review what they term the “legal, logistical, anti-competitive, and economic harm” that may result from the plan by the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach to reduce truck exhaust emissions.

“As currently envisioned, the ports’ trucking plan is dressed-up as an air quality initiative but results in anti-competitive reorganization of the logistics industry,” said John Ficker, NITL president. “There is no question that cleaner air is in everyone’s interest and a goal we fully support. However the ports’ plan will not accomplish this and is in reality a program designed to serve special interests, not the environment. Even if you have a clean truck you would be barred if you don’t follow the ports’ new logistics model.”

“This plan is a formula for a legal and logistical quagmire at the ports,” said John McLaurin, PMSA president. “We support clear and enforceable statewide standards for all trucks operating in California to be developed and implemented by the state of California. However, this proposal will only result in more congestion at the ports.”

The two groups contend that 30% of motor carriers doing business at the ports will be put out of business if the ports implement their clean air rules, forcing surviving companies to raise rates by at least 80% to cover the cost of compliance with the emission restrictions.

Both added that only those motor carriers providing services at the ports that enter into “concession agreements” will be able to serve the ports – with the elimination of all owner-operators being a key component of the concession agreement – leading to greater port congestion due to a lack of certified trucks and drivers necessary to provide service.

“The ports’ plan doesn’t solve our air quality problems – it just hands them to someone else,” said PMSA’s McLaurin. “The California Air Resources Board’s proposed state-wide standards would clean up the air for everyone, cause far less economic disruption, and create a level playing field for all truckers throughout the state. Moreover, an industry coalition of port tenants, ocean carriers, railroads and major shippers and retailers have all agreed to support statewide rules for trucks that will clean up more of California’s air quicker and with less disruption than the ports’ plan. We would endorse moving forward together as a trade and logistics community rather than on a port-by-port basis.”

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