LA port includes class 7s in clean trucks rule; bans “dray-offs.”

LOS ANGELES — If truckers operating in and around the port of Los Angeles think they can get around strict emission regulations by transfering loads to lighter trucks, they’d better think again.

They could wind up in jail.

According to a new regulation passed by the L.A. Harbor Commission, motor carriers engaging in so-called "dray-offs" are subject to fines of up to $1,000 and may also be judged to be in default of their concession agreement with the Port of Los Angeles.

Violators are subject to as much as six months imprisonment in the county jail.

The port will also apply the new clean-trucks mandate to class 7 vehicles, which were previously exempted.

It’s all part of a general loophole closing this week that the Harbor Commission undertook to make sure nobody bypasses their emission rules.

Dray-offs involve switching cargo from a Clean-Truck-Program (CTP) compliant truck to a non-compliant truck within the Harbor District or adjacent public streets.

The Port’s Clean Truck Program, in effect since Oct. 1, 2008, is modeled after the California Air Resources Board’s (CARB) state Drayage Truck Rule.

Since the start of 2010, Class 7 truck operation at the Port of Los Angeles has increased significantly, with an average truck engine age of 1998.

The increase of class 7 trucks was carriers way of trying to skirt around the requirement to buy newer, cleaner equipment.

Now, Class 7 operators have until July 1, 2011 to either purchase an engine retrofit or new vehicle in order to continue operating at the Port.

"By closing loopholes in the program, the action by the Harbor Commission today strengthens the Clean Truck Program and helps provide for its long-term sustainability," said Port of Los Angeles Executive Director Geraldine Knatz.

The draconian rules are, incidentally, contagious.

CARB is considering similar action to amend its State Drayage Truck Rule to include regulation of Class 7 vehicles and to address the dray-off issue.

CARB is scheduled to vote on similar measures at its two-day meeting starting on Thursday, December 16.

The Clean Trucks Program has been contentious from the start.

The ATA, while it generally supports tougher environmental standards, has been in a long legal battle to overturn the port’s ban on owner-operators.

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