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Los Angeles Harbor Commission Adopts Proposal to Ban Older Trucks from Port; 80% Reduction in Truck Pollution Projected

At their 1 Nov meeting, The Los Angeles Harbor Commissioners adopted a proposed measure that will implement a progressive ban of older trucks from operation at the port of Los Angeles beginning in October 2008. The ban will reduce port-related truck pollution by approximately 80% over a period of just over five years.

The proposed tariff will also require mayoral and city council approval by adoption as a city ordinance. Port of Long Beach Harbor Commissioners will deliberate a similar ban at the Oct. 29, 2007, meeting of the Long Beach Harbor Commission.

This proposed tariff moves our air quality goals forward next year with a progressive truck ban schedule that is not only consistent with the anticipated requirements proposed by the California Air Resources Board, but actually achieves even more emissions reductions in an accelerated timeframe. While we are still working on the broader Clean Trucks Program components, this tariff shows our commitment to advancing the air quality goals we set forth in the Clean Air Action Plan approved by both port boards last November.

—Geraldine Knatz, Ph.D., executive director of the Port of Los Angeles

Under this tariff, trucks will only be granted access to Port terminals if they are registered with the Ports and have a Radio Frequency Identification Device (RFID) tag that will provide information about each truck to the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach. Port marine terminal operators will be required to equip their terminals with RFID tag readers to manage access of drayage trucks and ensure that they are compliant with the emissions standards that the ports are establishing through the progressive ban schedule.

The tariff language specifies that, beginning 10 October 2008, the Ports would reduce harmful emissions at the Port terminals by denying access to older trucks according to a progressive ban by model year scheduled over the five-year Clean Trucks Program schedule. The schedule for the progressive ban is as follows:

  • Ban pre-1989 trucks from Port service by October 1, 2008

  • Ban 1989-1993 trucks from Port service by January 1, 2010

  • Ban unretrofitted 1994-2003 trucks from Port service by January 1, 2010

  • Ban pre-2007 trucks from Port service by January 1, 2012

The tariff would not apply to “Dedicated Use Vehicles,” defined in the tariff as On-Road Vehicles that do not have separate tractors and trailers, including auto transports, fuel delivery vehicles, concrete mixers; mobile cranes and construction equipment.


Max Reid

Thats good. The older Diesel trucks should be replaced with newer natgas powered ones.

Diesel costs $3.3 / gallon and it may increase even further. Whereas natgas costs less than 1/2 this price.

With 7 million + natgas powered vehicles, there is enough knowledge and technology to do this.

It can be thru LNG or CNG.


I sincerely doubt that any significant proportion of the long-haul Class 8 truck fleet will run on NG within the next five or even ten years. The fueling infrastructure simply isn't there, and there does not seem to be a significant push to install it.

While trucks confined to yard work at the port or local haulage within the Los Angeles metro area could make the switch, plenty of trucks call at the port to pick up loads and transport them long distances. This article seems to point to a program aimed at those trucks (a previous article spoke about converting yard trucks to NG), and I think that diesel will remain dominant in that category for the foreseeable future.

Newer diesel engines, however, are considerably cleaner than older ones, and a switch to them will improve air qualiy in the LA basin. As for higher fuel costs, hauling companies will simply pay and pass it on the consumer, in most any case.


Lack of refueling infrastructure is a sorry excuse for continuing to allow ever increasing dependence on expensive, and highly polluting petroleum imports when there is a readily available, domestic, inexpensive, and clean substitute (natural gas and bio-methane) that can reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 20 - 100% and slash cancer causing toxic emissions from trucks by over 70%. A country that can afford to spend trillions of dollars waging wars to secure distant oil fields half way across the world, can afford to build a few compressed natural gas refueling stations in long beach and around the country.



natural gas isn't exactly domestic – a large portion comes from canada, in fact, especially in the northeast.

this is a great move, since california already supplies ultra-low sulfur diesel everywhere. i like the timeline.


With respect to energy security, there is little difference between Canada and the U.S. In addition, 85% of current natural gas supply is domestic, with huge reserves available in Alaska, which is only five days by LNG or CNG tanker from the west coast. Natural gas can be manufactured from Coal or Biomass, so its supply situation is far superior to petroleum in terms of energy security and cost.



Natural gas is increasingly imported from overseas as LNG, and the US has tried to rely on the spot market and is likely to get squeezed out of the global regime which is built around long-term supply contracts.  This bodes ill for security of the natural gas supply, and production from coal is unlikely to be able to bridge the gap.

I'd suggest electric trucks for the short term.  The Zebra batteries appear to be well-suited to such tasks (at least for short range), and the number of sources of electricity is far larger than the number of sources of methane.

In the long term, the port should be running a rail line or lines straight to the docks.  There is no sense in using trucks for such a short distance when freight containers could be moved directly between ships and flatcars.


I am about 11 miles from the port. We do have a huge rail system built for the port with federal $, "The Alameda Corridor Project". It is running at very low capacity because it is still cheaper to have owner-operator truckers with nasty old rigs hauling the containers.

This is the only way to force the use of the rail system to it's design capacity.

And yes, this will put many small truckers out of work.



I could see electric vehicles for haulage around the port premises themselves, but this article seems to focus on long-distance oriented trucking, which is a long way from electrification. I was not aware of the rail project in that area, and if this is an attempt to price freight onto the rails and off the older trucks (as Lakewood suggests), I see the logic.

My one concern in that case is that emissions standards for main-line locomotives have lagged behind the standards imposed on new highway trucks, so the air-quality benefit of rails might be somewhat impaired. Improved emissions standards or electrification of the local trackage (a dicier proposition if it means switching locomotives on each consist once you're out of town) would help on that score, but the prices of such moves would have to be considered.


The solution to the loco emissions issue is to use Green Goats or even pure electric switch locos to shuttle cars around the port.  You're going to switch locos anyway once the train is assembled, and if the track from the port to the main yard is electrified (not even inside the port), a battery-electric loco could recharge while in use without having to fire up a sustainer engine.


Wouldn't this be fairly easy to get around? Somebody could just setup a rental service on the outskirts of the port. A pre-1989 truck comes in, rents a truck just long enough to go into the port and load up the trailer. Leave the port, switch the trailer at the rental location, and the pre-1989 truck is on its way.



Sounds possible, but you'd have to ask whether the cost of doing all that (paying to support a rental yard and rental cabs, getting off the highway, stopping and re-hitching, etc.) is high enough to surpass the cost of simply hiring drivers with newer, cleaner trucks.

After all, if this program creates disproportionate demand for cleaner trucks in this particular area, then clean trucks already operating in a pollution insensitive area would simply flock to LA, while the old trucks (to the extent there is any life left in them) would migrate out to where the clean trucks used to be in order do their old work. Net result: same amount of pollution, but different (and hopefully better) geographic distribution -- i.e. the pollution ends up in some place with a low population density and low propensity to smog.


NBK-Boston wrote "plenty of trucks call at the port to pick up loads and transport them long distances"

The documents about port trucks that I have seen show that the trucks that service the ports do not make long hauls. They typically pick up a container and take it a short distance to a warehouse or distribution center. There the contents might be removed and repacked into longer containers or mingled with other goods for final delivery.

A survey of drivers commissioned by the Gateway Cities Council of Governments (PDF) found that 88% of the trips are under 101 miles (see Figure 3). The long hauls must be done by other trucks, those that never go into the ports. That bodes well for those who want to see natural gas trucks, as the trucks that serve the port are never very far away.

The rest of the Gateway Cities survey provides a clear picture of the trucking scene at the ports -- low wage drivers working long hours in old trucks. Another report about port truck drivers is Taking the Low Road by the East Bay Alliance for a Sustainable Economy.

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