Key New Jersey politicians along with activist groups, including the Teamsters union, on June 16 pushed for launching a more aggressive program to replace older trucks operating at the Port of New York and New Jersey to reduce the impact of air pollution on nearby residents, according to a Journal of Commerce news story.

At a press conference on the steps of Newark City Hall, the Mayor of Newark, Ras Baraka, along with representatives of Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.), formerly a Newark mayor, and members of a coalition of community activists and unions called for PANYNJ to reinstate a ban on trucks with engines from MY 2007 or earlier.

JOC reported that Amy Goldsmith, chair of the Coalition for Healthy Ports, said at the presser that “The time is long overdue for the port authority to adopt rules that require immediate and substantial reductions in the deadly diesel emissions from the trucks serving the Port of Newark. This is especially outrageous because lower emission and near-zero emission trucks are now available and in use where other port authorities have required it.”

While PANYNJ dropped the all-out ban, it is still offering funding to assist port truckers operating older trucks to buy newer, more environmentally friendly vehicles.

Back in January, the joint agency said $10.2 million in funds for its Truck Replacement Program will provide grants for a portion of the cost of replacing trucks with MY 1994 and 1995 engines that now call on the port. In addition, the agency has set a goal to eventually have all trucks serving its terminals equipped with 2007 or newer engines.

JOC also reported that when asked to respond to the call to reinstate the ban, PANYNJ spokesman Steve Coleman stated that “the port authority urges the city of Newark to enforce existing ordinances that regulate truck traffic and truck idling on local streets, both those destined for the port and those making local deliveries.”

Jeff Bader, president of the Association of Bi-State Motor Carriers, was quoted by JOC as saying the ban “would create hardship for the entire port community” and that it would be no more acceptable now than when it was dropped.

At the press conference, JOC also reported that Mayor Baraka repeated his previously stated demand that more port jobs go to Newark residents.