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San Pedro Bay Ports’ Draft Action Plan Delays Emission Reductions

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August 1, 2017

The San Pedro Bay Ports’ newly released draft 2017 Clean Air Action Plan Update takes a step backward from the discussion draft released last November, the Coalition’s analysis shows. It won’t displace diesel trucks with near-zero- and zero-emission vehicles fast enough, according to Coalition President Thomas Lawson.

The CAAP Update sets a deadline of 2035 for all port-related equipment to produce zero emissions. Lawson said that the plan should move the deadline for 100 percent zero emissions up to 2023 and should include immediate adoption of near-zero-emission vehicles.

“The reductions called for in the 2017 CAAP can be achieved sooner with an accelerated deployment of low-NOx trucks powered by RNG. This technology is available today and can be used to completely upgrade the port truck fleet by 2023, as called for in the Advanced Clean Trucks Now [ACT Now] Plan,” he said.

Delay hangs on interpretation of new law
The CAAP targets emissions from port-related operations, including trucks, in the San Pedro Bay Ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles, which comprise the largest source of air pollution in one of the most polluted air basins in the U.S. Cleaning the air in this region is a priority for the state and for environmental justice groups.

At the heart of the deadline controversy is SB 1, a recently enacted gas tax law that prohibits CARB from regulating diesel trucks until they’re 18 years old or have been driven 800,000 miles. The ports claim that SB 1 prevents them from taking stronger action against diesel emissions. However, CARB has said that the law doesn’t limit the ports’ ability to regulate trucks or to make the CAAP’s emissions goals more aggressive.

“The draft CAAP takes a step backward from the discussion draft in addressing diesel truck emissions. As a result of the ports’ interpretation of SB 1, the draft CAAP is a diesel truck program until zero-emission vehicles are mandated in 2035,” said Greg Roche, vice president at Clean Energy Fuels.

“Old diesel trucks will continue to operate in the ports until at least 2023 or later, depending on when CARB imposes a new diesel emission standard to replace the 2010 standard,” added Roche.

Draft acknowledges NGVs’ benefits
The draft 2017 CAAP includes an updated Clean Trucks Program proposal, which acknowledges that trucks with a Cummins Westport ISL G Near Zero NOx engine running on natural gas provide significant greenhouse gas reductions. The proposal doesn’t encourage early adoption of these trucks, however.

The CAAP calls for phasing in clean engine standards starting in 2018, when all new trucks entering the ports will have to have a 2014 or newer engine. In 2023—or when CARB’s new near-zero-emission heavy-duty engine standard is implemented—new trucks must at least meet this standard or pay a fee to enter the ports’ terminals. Finally, in 2035, only trucks rated for zero emissions or the equivalent will be exempt from paying a fee to enter.

According to the ports, implementing the CAAP could cost between $8.5 billion and $14 billion for new technologies, infrastructure investments, and necessary incentive programs. The draft plan does not include incentives to move to low-NOx NGVs to help fleets meet the clean engine standards starting next year.

Public comment period closes in September
Port commissioners are accepting public comments through Sept. 18 at The ports are holding a public workshop on the draft 2017 CAAP on Aug. 30 and a second meeting in November to consider the final draft.

Lawson plans to testify on Aug. 30 on behalf of the NGV industry and will promote an accelerated timeline for clean vehicles. “We should all be doing everything that we can, as aggressively as we can, to get dirty diesel trucks off of California’s roads,” he said.

Photo ©Westport Innovations, used by permission

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