Calif. port truckers protest upcoming bans

Truckers converged on city halls in Los Angeles and Oakland Dec. 15, protesting emissions rules that could put them out of business while cleaning up the air near ports in the two California regions.

Approximately 80 independent contractors who work the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles drove from Long Beach to Los Angeles City Hall and back. To the north, an estimated 100 truckers made their way from the Oakland port to city hall in protest.

They were calling attention to port “Clean Trucks” programs and California Air Resources Board clean-air regulations that go into effect Jan. 1, prohibiting all pre-1994 tractors and 1994-2003 rigs that haven’t been retrofitted with diesel particulate filters.

About 5,600 trucks have been replaced with new “clean” models, leading to the reduction of nearly 70 percent in toxic emissions, according to the Long Beach port. At the same time, about 5,000 owner-operators claim they can’t afford to buy a new truck or DPF because of the weakening economy.

In Oakland, a $22 million state and local grant fund financed truck upgrades for approximately 1,000 truckers. The fund, however, ran out of money, leaving about 1,000 truckers without access to financing to upgrade their rigs.

CARB has made a four-month extension of the Jan. 1 deadline to operators who have received grant money but not yet installed a DPF or to those with a sales contract for a DPF or new truck as of Dec. 31.

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