California ‘clean trucks’ model creeping toward ports in Washington state

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A bill introduced this month in the Washington State House would codify a strategy the Northwest Seaport Alliance, a partnership between the ports of Seattle, Tacoma and Vancouver, B.C., has attempted to institute and enforce at alliance-member high-traffic container terminals. Namely, that strategy seeks to require all trucks doing business at such terminals be powered by 2007 or newer model engines.

The bill, if passed, would require all drayage trucks moving into and out of high-volume ports (with a total of more than 20 million annual tons of “domestic and foreign waterborne trade,” including Seattle and Tacoma) to be of 2007 and newer model year engines by January 1, 2019. It’s a strategy that has been pursued at Los Angeles and Long Beach ports previously, likewise more recently in New York and New Jersey.

Under the terms of the bill, further, by “January 1, 2035, all drayage trucks delivering goods to or receiving goods from a high-volume port must be zero emission vehicles.”

(Full text of the bill, currently referred to the Washington State House’s environment committee, is available at this link. Find a bill status tracker here.

The bill’s introduction follows the Northwest Seaport Alliance’s attempts to enforce a similar ban on pre-2007 emissions spec truck engines at Tacoma and Seattle alliance container ports on April 1 this year, what it dubs the second phase of a plan adopted in 2008, also with Vancouver, B.C., ports in Canada. In 2010, it says, pre-1994 engines were phased out, and the alliance made $15 million in matching grant funding available to trucking companies to upgrade power units, and terminals to invest in gate infrastructure. Under that grant program, “more than 410 trucks were scrapped and replaced,” the alliance says.

The April 1, 2018, deadline date, however, remains in “proposed” status, not set in stone, and represents a delay from a previous date of the first of this year. At that time, the alliance reported more than half of nearly 5,000 trucks serving member international container terminals were still powered by pre-2007 engines, and waived the requirement to upgrade for 90 days pending further consideration.

The group on Facebook recently posted an open letter to the alliance signed “A thousand upset truckers” arguing that ports’ mandating newer equipment was unlawful and unnecessary, representing a burden too far.

According to other recent reports, drivers have been organizing against the move.

The alliance is hosting open forums for truckers February 3 in Tacoma and Seattle ahead of a vote by alliance managing members February 16. Details are available via this link to the alliance’s website.