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Ports begin charging diesel-powered polluters to build Clean Truck Fund

The ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach on Friday began charging diesel-powered drayage trucks $10 per unit entering and leaving the ports with proceeds going to a Clean Truck Fund that will help pay for zero-emission trucks and infrastructure.

The Clean Truck Rate is charged per 20-foot-equivalent unit hauled by a diesel truck. A typical 40-foot container would cost $20 to move. Electric trucks and certain alternative fuel vehicles are exempt. 

Zero-emission trucks like the battery-electric Nikola Tre are exempt from the new California Clean Truck Rate, which charges diesel-powered trucks $10 for every 20-foot-equivalent container hauled into or out of the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach. (Photo: Nikola)

The two California ports each expect to collect $45 million this year from the fee, which is charged to cargo operators and their agents, not to drivers. 

‘Tough leadership moment’

“This is a tough leadership moment. I know it is tough for our truck drivers. I know it’s tough for our companies,” Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said during a press conference at the Port of Long Beach with Toyota fuel cell and BYD electric trucks as a backdrop. “I know it’s tough for our ports to take a risk. But this is a risk that will be rewarded.”

Garcetti and Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia pledged in 2017 to create a new Clean truck Program that would require all trucks entering and leaving the ports to emit zero emissions by 2035.

“We’ve got a lot of work to get there,” Garcetti said. “It’s going to be billions of dollars when we look at our infrastructure and our vehicles. But this Clean Truck Rate is a critical step to get there.”

It is a forerunner to the state’s Advanced Clean Truck rule, which will require 5% of new tractors to have zero tailpipe emissions beginning in 2024 with the percentage increasing in steps through 2040. 

The California Air Resources Board this fall is expected to require not only that manufacturers make electric trucks but that fleets buy them.

Pollution reduction accomplishments

The two ports are bringing in additional money through the fee to speed the transition, which already has posted impressive reductions in particulate emissions (90%); sulfur oxides (97%) and nitrogen oxides (60%), Port of Long Beach Executive Director Mario Cordero said.

“No other container gateway in the world has accomplished the emission reductions that we have at the San Pedro Bay complex,” Cordero said. “It is not about reducing emissions. Our quest today is about eliminating emissions.”

16 demonstration projects

The ports currently have 16 demonstration projects with more than 200 varieties of zero-emissions equipment, according to Los Angeles port chief Gene Seroka.

One of those is the $82 million Shore-to-Store program in which 10 hydrogen-powered Kenworth T680 Class 8 trucks equipped with Toyota-made hydrogen fuel cells are being used within the ports and for runs to the Inland Empire. The project includes two hydrogen fueling stations and a pair of terminal tractors.

“We need the original equipment manufacturers and their tiered suppliers to accelerate the development, deployment and delivery of affordable zero-emissions equipment and heavy-duty trucks, not just here in Southern California but throughout the country and the world,” Seroka said.

Slightly more than 25% of the 20,000 trucks in the ports’ registry predate tougher emissions requirements that went into effect in 2010.

 “We need to transition those 5,300 trucks in the short term to anything but diesel,” Cordero said.

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Click for more FreightWaves articles by Alan Adler.

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