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Coalition’s ACT Now Plan Answers the Call for Bold Ideas to Clean Up SoCal Ports

February 27, 2017

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti recently challenged advocates and stakeholders working with the San Pedro Bay ports to find ways to accelerate the Clean Air Action Plan (CAAP) and get the dirtiest trucks off our roads in the next few years. The Coalition has answered that call with a plan that supports the mayor’s Clean Truck Program (CTP) Recommendation in an effort to help the ports reduce pollutants as quickly as possible.

The Coalition’s Advanced Clean Trucks (ACT) Now plan builds on the draft CAAP’s recognition of the role near-zero-NOx natural gas engines can play in reducing emissions at the ports. ACT Now also recommends making the port plan more aggressive, along the lines of the California Sustainable Freight Action Plan, by cleaning the air around the ports faster, relying significantly on available renewable fuels, and encouraging private investment to extend the alternative fuel network.

“We strongly support the CAAP and its recommendation to implement a new CTP by April 1, 2018. We believe the ports’ goal of replacing 100 percent of the existing drayage fleet—13,000 vehicles—with zero- and near-zero-NOx trucks by July 1, 2023, is absolutely feasible. In fact, the Coalition believes that goal should be made a requirement,” said Coalition President Thomas Lawson.

The ACT Now plan recommends the use of all technologies and fuels—including natural gas, propane, battery electric, and hydrogen fuel cell electric—capable of meeting a zero or near-zero (0.02 grams per brake horsepower-hour [g/bhp-hr]) NOx standard and reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions at least 40 percent with renewable fuels. The plan prioritizes immediate and cost-effective emission reductions to improve air quality as soon as possible in disadvantaged communities, as well as to meet long-term environmental goals.

Following are the ACT Now plan’s key recommendations.

Exempt existing natural gas trucks until 2023. The ports are considering imposing fees on diesel trucks with engines 10 years old and older. Should this policy be implemented, the Coalition recommends exempting zero- and near-zero-emission trucks from fees on an ongoing basis. In-use natural gas trucks in the San Pedro Bay Port Drayage Truck Registry should be exempt from fees until 2023, when all trucks in the registry should have been upgraded to meet CARB’s optional low-NOx emission standard of 0.02 g/bhp-hr.

The Coalition believe the exemption is merited because the natural gas trucks from model years 2007 and 2008 are powered by the Cummins Westport 8.9-liter ISL G engine, which was certified to the 0.2 g/bhp-hr NOx standard before it became the EPA’s 2010 standard; these NGVs are reducing GHG emissions by more than 60 percent compared with 2010 diesel engines.

Immediately seek incentive funding and fund only zero- and near-zero-emission trucks. The ports should immediately seek a variety of sources of incentive funding to meet the levels necessary to achieve diesel truck replacement goals—and they must direct that funding only at vehicles with zero- or near-zero-NOx engines. This will ensure that incentive funding results in the maximum emissions reduction possible. To raise awareness and make funding immediately available, CTP incentives should be announced along with the adoption of the new clean ports plan.

Further, said Lawson, “Funding should only be provided to technologies that are commercially available and viable for immediate deployment as fully capable, heavy-duty drayage trucks in port applications.”

Provide $100,000 per truck. The Coalition recommends that the CTP provide $100,000 in funding for each zero- or near-zero-emission truck. That level of funding is consistent with the current Prop. 1B grants for near-zero-emission trucks, which was enough to drive purchases of ultralow-NOx natural gas trucks, particularly by fleets in Southern California.

This level of funding puts the purchase of cleaner trucks within reach of owner-operators and drivers, which should be a significant consideration for any new clean-truck program that aims to divert more transportation funds toward port cleanup efforts.

Aggressive goals will spur private investment. The Coalition believes that if the ACT Now Plan is enacted, it will create a growing market for alternative fuels that will compel private investors to build infrastructure—leading to significant job growth and local economic investment as well as cleaner air.

The Coalition estimates that full implementation of a 100 percent ultralow-emission natural gas truck and RNG fuel strategy will bring in $1 billion to $1.3 billion in private investment to expand the network of natural gas fueling stations, improve pipelines, develop new LNG production plants, and, most important, build several in-state RNG production facilities. And that’s just the natural gas portion of the strategy—increased use of other alternative fuels could bring in additional investments.

ACT Now plan supersizes environmental benefits

By 2023, the ACT Now Plan would provide a 99 percent reduction in annual NOx emissions (approximately 5.5 tons of NOx per day for Southern California) and a 100 percent reduction in petroleum consumption (more than 115 million dge/year).

By 2035, the cumulative benefits of the ACT Now Plan compared with the draft CAAP would be:

  • 60 percent fewer truck replacements: 21,000 trucks (cost: $2.4 billion) versus 52,000 trucks (cost: $4.3 billion)
  • 55 percent fewer NOx emissions: 12,800 tons versus 27,700 tons
  • 35 percent fewer GHG emissions: 21.4 million tons versus 33.1 million tons.

“For the first time, we have a commercially available, cost-effective, and proven technology with a renewable fuel that can not only eliminate smog-forming emissions from a heavy-duty port truck, but also help meet statewide climate change mitigation goals,” said Lawson. “Investments in near-zero-NOx natural gas trucks fueled with RNG will also drive huge investments in infrastructure and create jobs throughout the region and the state.”

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