The Houston Chronicle reports that the rule is part of state environmental regulations to curb emissions.
Last week, port officials sent a letter to the Texas Natural Resources Conservation Commission asking to negotiate alternatives to the ban, which also applies to construction equipment.
Port officials say the rule would drive business to competing ports, and actually would end up increasing pollution. Ships waiting to load and unload containers would end up idling in the channel for hours.
The federal Clean Air Act requires nitrogen oxide emissions to be cut to 289 tons per day by 2007. If no pollution measures are enacted, according to the paper, the area's emissions will be more than three times that in seven years.
The port is looking at new technologies to cut emissions. For instance, it has tested PuriNOx, a new low-emissions fuel using an emulsion of diesel fuel and water, on some equipment. The fuel reduced emissions by 25 percent and didn't appear to affect horsepower. However, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency must complete testing before the fuel becomes widely available. Catalytic converters and propane-powered yard jockeys are also being considered.