Companies such as TTSI, one of largest drayage trucking companies at the Southern California...

Companies such as TTSI, one of largest drayage trucking companies at the Southern California ports, started using Cummins ISX12 G low NOx natural gas engines several years ago.

Photo: California NGV Coalition

The cleanest natural-gas-powered trucks will be exempt from the Port of Long Beach Clean Truck Fund Rate as a transitional step to zero-emissions trucks becoming widely available.

Natural gas trucks are lower emitters of nitrogen oxides, or NOx, a building block of smog. In considering a rate to encourage the trucking industry to invest in cleaner vehicles and reach zero-emissions for cargo trucking by 2035, the Port of Long Beach and Port of Los Angeles have set a rate of $10 per twenty-foot equivalent unit – a standard measure for one 20-foot-long cargo container. The ports have not yet implemented that rate but are working on a system with a third-party vendor that will collect the rate for the ports.

Zero-emissions trucks had already been determined to be exempt from the future rate. The decision to add natural gas trucks is designed to encourage the industry to make an interim step while zero-emissions technology catches up.

The low-NOx exemption will apply to trucks picking up or dropping off loaded containers at the Port of Long Beach that use natural gas engines meeting the 0.02 grams of nitrogen oxides per brake horsepower-hour standard. The vehicles must be purchased and registered in the Port Drayage Truck Registry by Dec. 31, 2022.

“These trucks will emit 90% less nitrogen oxides than equivalent vehicles today,” said Port of Long Beach Executive Director Mario Cordero. “The question we were asking ourselves was, do we reduce emissions now or do we wait for tomorrow? For our community, and our commitment to the Clean Air Action Plan, the answer is now.”

Phasing out older, more polluting trucks has been key to clean air gains the San Pedro Bay ports have made since the original Clean Truck Program was launched in 2008, according to a news release. (A plan that was not without controversy.)

Diesel emissions from trucks have been cut by as much as 97% compared to 2005 levels. However, officials said, trucks remain the port’s largest source of greenhouse gas emissions and the second highest source of NOx.

The Clean Air Action Plan (CAAP) has established a goal of zero-emissions trucks by 2035. A key component of the overall strategy to transition to a zero-emissions truck fleet is an updated Clean Truck Program incentivizing the development and adoption of new technology. The Clean Truck Fund rate is expected to generate $80 million in the first year.

Updated in 2017, the CAAP contains a comprehensive strategy to accelerate progress toward a zero-emissions future while protecting and strengthening the ports’ competitive position in the global economy. Since 2005, port-related air pollution emissions in San Pedro Bay have dropped 87% for diesel particulate matter, 58% for nitrogen oxides and 97% for sulfur oxides. Targets for reducing greenhouse gases (GHGs) from port-related sources were introduced as part of the 2017 CAAP Update. The document calls for the ports to reduce GHGs to 40% below 1990 levels by 2030 and 80% below 1990 levels by 2050. The CAAP was originally approved in 2006.

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