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SoCal Ports Support Near-Zero-NOx Engines in Clean Air Action Plan Update

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January 30, 2017

The Port of Los Angeles and the Port of Long Beach held a joint community workshop Jan. 24 to get feedback on the draft update to their Clean Air Action Plan (CAAP), released in November. The Coalition was on hand to express support for the update’s recognition of the role that near-zero-NOx natural gas engines can play in meeting the port commissions’ proposed new standards.

“We now have a commercially available and viable technology and fuel that can eliminate emissions from the drayage truck sector and allow the regions around the ports to meet their air-quality attainment goals,” said Coalition President Thomas Lawson, who spoke at the workshop in support of modernizing the landmark CAAP program to include RNG, the 12-liter Cummins Westport ISL G Near Zero NOx engine, and other near-zero-NOx technologies.

The ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach are the two largest in the U.S. Together, they handle 40 percent of the nation’s total containerized import traffic and 25 percent of its total exports. Since the ports adopted the CAAP in 2006, diesel particulate matter in and around the ports has dropped 84 percent, nitrogen oxides have been cut in half, sulfur oxides have fallen 97 percent, and greenhouse gases have decreased 12 percent. At the same time, container volume has increased seven percent.

Commissioners seek to build on success

Inspired by these successes, harbor commissioners want to further decrease pollutants in the ports. The attainment goal outlined in the new CAAP draft plan is to reduce greenhouse gases from port-related sources to 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050, in part by “aggressively deploying zero- and near-zero-emission trucks and cargo-handling equipment.” At the workshop, port staff laid out five strategies for making port trucks cleaner and encouraging operators to invest in alternative fuels, including RNG, sooner rather than later. The draft update calls for the following measures.

  • From 2018 to 2023, operators will have to pay an annual fee for all trucks that are 10 or more years old, except for near-zero- and zero-emission trucks.
  • By 2020, all trucks must be model year 2010 or newer.
  • By 2023, all trucks must be low-NOx vehicles, regardless of what alternative fuel technology is powering them.
  • By 2035, all trucks must be zero-emission vehicles, regardless of what alternative fuel technology is powering them.
  • A green truck priority program, similar to an express lane, will allow businesses operating cleaner technologies to get their shipments in and out of the ports more quickly.

Workshop attendees suggest improvements

Several commenters at the workshop suggested refinements to the plan. Todd Campbell, vice president of public policy and regulatory affairs at Clean Energy Fuels, recommended that the port eliminate any truck that does not meet a near-zero-emissions standard by 2023. In the meantime, he added, the ports’ proposal to eliminate trucks older than model year 2010 by 2020 should include an exemption for natural gas trucks, because NGVs met the 2010 standard starting with model year 2007.

A driver pointed out that emissions enforcement should extend to the highways and neighborhoods around the ports rather than just applying to the ports themselves. Also, owner-operators at the workshop asked that the plan take into account how these regulations could affect their businesses.

“With such a wide variety of entities operating in a small area, it’s important that the plan provide incentives for smaller companies without the capital to invest in several new trucks. They need support to achieve these goals so they’re not put out of business,” said Lawson.

Finally, Lawson called on port staff to coordinate with state agencies, particularly CARB, to make sure they’re working together to ensure that fleets and owner operators can comply with new rules.

NGV industry plan is in the works

“The ports remain very concerned about getting cleaner trucks on the road. It’s important that CARB assist them in that by providing complementary incentives and programs to help achieve their emissions reduction targets,” said Lawson. He added that the NGV industry collectively will release a plan in mid-February that will support and further the commissions’ strategies to clean up the ports using near-zero-NOx natural gas technologies.

The ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach are collecting public comments on the draft plan until Feb. 17.



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