Long Beach Port Plan News

By: George S. Mc Quade III

Pollution from Long Beach and Los Angeles ports combined is a serious threat to public health and something needs to be done, fast. Long Beach City Council last nigth ( July 8, 2009) voted 6-0 to reconsider a Clean Trucks Program.

More than 90 per of the estimated 16,800 trucks that service the two ports are driven by independent owner/operators who work on an as-needed basis and respond to calls to pick up or deliver goods to the two ports.


Rather than risking a trucking industry lawsuit by imposing an employee driver only mandate like the Port of Los Angeles, the Long Beach plan, strongly backed by Mayor Foster, allows both independent drivers and trucking company employee drivers to continue to serve the Port of Long Beach. Why?

? The Long Beach plan can move quickly to greatly improve air quality because it is based on the existing, proven, employee and independent driver business model used by the trucking industry nationwide.

? The Long Beach plan assures the Port will continue to grow, prosper and create even more jobs while giving all truck drivers the right to decide whether they wish to be an employee of a larger company or continue to be an owner/operator and their own boss.

? The Long Beach Plan gives truck drivers the freedom to choose to work as employees of a trucking company or as independent business people, so long as they meet the new strict environmental and safety requirements. Many independent drivers have made it clear they will not become employee drivers as mandated in the Port of Los Angeles plan.

? Long Beach allows all segments of the shipping and cargo industry to retain maximum flexibility in transporting goods, lessening any potential disruption in the movement of goods. Many businesses use a mixture of employees and independent freelancers - port trucking is no different.


The Long Beach plan has been endorsed by the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce and the Southern California Leadership Council and leading newspapers including the Los Angeles Times and the Long Beach Press-Telegram.

Between enhanced truck safety and emission standards and new security requirements being imposed by the U.S. Transportation Security Administration on all truckers who regularly service the ports, some current drivers won't qualify and will leave the industry. That will result in fewer drivers serving the ports and lead to an increase in the hourly rates paid to drivers. That's a market driven solution that places the cost of doing business right where it belongs: in the cargo owners' hands.

The Clean Trucks Program will ban 1988 and older trucks after October 1 and progressively ban all trucks that don't meet 2007 emission standards by 2012. To assist drivers who agree to scrap their dirty trucks, the port will offer an 80 percent grant or loan toward the purchase or lease of a new truck.

The subsidized program will be financed by new fees to be assessed on imports and exports, state bond funds and Port of Long Beach funds. For the average trucker, a new clean-fuel truck can be leased and maintained for only $500 a month, and then bought at the end of seven years for as little as $7,000. The average service life of the new trucks can be 20 years or more. Those who wish to retrofit an older truck to comply with the new pollution standards can get grants of up to $20,000.

The Long Beach Clean Trucks Program has been designed to make it feasible for individuals to participate for the long term. The first new trucks will be handed over to truckers next month, beginning a process that will both reduce pollution and improve the health of those living in the Los Angeles Basin. We should make sure to seize this rare opportunity where everybody actually wins - the port, truckers and everyone living in the region.

This is solution that is supported by the Southern California Leadership Council (S.C.L.C.).
a business-led and sponsored public policy partnership representing key business and community leaders in all 6 Southern California Counties. The Council, with the support of California's four former Governors, provides proactive leadership for a strong economy, a vital business environment and a better quality of life for everyone who lives here.

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