West coast ports plan to mirror truck emission rules

SEATTLE — A trio of northwestern shipping ports are planning to follow through with similar truck emission rules recently passed at the ports of L.A. and Long Beach.

According to the Seattle Post Intelligencer, the Seattle seaport, along with the ports of Tacoma and Vancouver, B.C., has drafted a program similar to one in the Golden State in which trucks built before 1989 could be banned from entering the port as of October 2008.

Trucks are just one part of a larger strategy that asks port business reduce air emissions produced by container ships, cargo handling equipment and railroads.

In January, the VPA will follow suit and
ban trucks older than 1989

By 2010, the Seattle and Tacoma ports want the roughly 1700 trucks that serve the docks to meet emissions levels of trucks built in 1994. By 2015, the ports want 80 percent of their trucking fleets to reach emissions levels of this year’s particulate-free 2007 model trucks, the newspaper states.

The program would be enforced through a truck licence system — a practice already administered by the Vancouver Port Authority (VAP) to standardize such things as driver compensation and other environmental rules like anti-idling provisions.

In January, the VPA will follow suit and ban trucks older than 1989 from operating within its terminals; in 2009, trucks older than 1994 models will be restricted as well.

To qualify for a truck licence after Jan. ’08, carriers and owner-ops will be required to pass increasingly stringent annual opacity checks conducted by provincially certified facilities and pass random checks throughout the year.
Enforcement will be three-tiered, based on warnings and then suspensions, and, for the most serious offences over time, cancellation of a company’s truck licence.

In California, meanwhile, a group of carriers have formed against the environmental initiative. A division of the American Truckers Associations has threatened to sue if the ports go through with the tough standards.

The public can comment on the Seattle and Tacoma ports’ environmental strategy until Dec. 6; the port’s five-member board of elected commissioners is expected to vote on the final plan Jan. 22.

— with files from the Seattle Post Intelligencer

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