Truckers and labor activists are blasting the new zero-emissions plan to “clean up the air” at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, worried that they will be stuck with the bill.
Southern California Public Radio KPCC reports:
“It’s going to be extremely expensive, and the technology is not there,” Gene Seroka, the executive director of the Port of Los Angeles, told the Board of Harbor Commissioners on Thursday as he explained how the ports would incentivize manufacturers to build equipment they do not currently make.
The huge price tag worries labor unions like the Teamsters, who say much of the nearly $2 billion spent on the first Clean Air Action Plan, passed in 2006, was borne by truck drivers. That plan resulted in the turn over of the entire fleet of port trucks, replacing old, dirty clunkers with cleaner, but far more expensive, versions. Many drivers could not afford to buy new trucks, which cost upwards of $100,000.
The ports acknowledge that changing over to zero-emissions technology will require significant state, regional and federal government funding. They want to try to win a portion of the revenues raised by Gov. Jerry Brown’s newly extended cap-and-trade program.
To make the changes proposed in the new plan, the ports will have to replace every one of the almost 17,000 container-hauling trucks that service the ports, almost all of which are powered by diesel. Zero-emissions technologies for those vehicles do not yet exist on the commercial market.
A decade ago the port required every truck driver who serviced the ports to buy a brand new truck, and most could not afford the $100,000 price tag, so they entered into lease-to-own deals that left many of them deeply in debt.
Fred Potter, Director of the Teamsters Port Division, characterized the new Clean Air Action Plan “a disaster for drivers,” because it fails to spell out who would cover the cost of upgrading the diesel fleet. Zero-emissions trucks do not exist yet, and are likely to cost at least three times as much as the clean diesel trucks port haulers were forced to buy in 2006. “So, we see a program that where we see the cost is going to [be] put on the very people that can’t afford it,” he told KPCC’s AirTalk.
The American Trucking Association sued the Port of Los Angeles, and won a victory in court over the 2006 mandate, but in the end the truckers wound up footing the bill. Another lawsuit by the truckers or their union is likely.