Funding will provide financial assistance for greener trucks

The Port of Long Beach will begin collecting a Clean Trucks Fee on February 18, 2009 to accelerate the replacement of thousands of polluting cargo trucks. At the same time the Port will kick off an electronic gate access system that will enable the fee collection and improve security at shipping terminals.

“It is imperative that we begin collecting the fees so we can move forward and achieve our clean-air goals,” said Richard D. Steinke. “The truck financing fee is a critical, long-planned part of our Clean Trucks Program to protect public health and improve air quality and security.”

The Clean Trucks Fee is expected to raise about $1 million a day or about $1 billion over the next few years at both San Pedro Bay ports to help finance the replacement of many of the 17,000 trucks that are a leading source of air pollution in Southern California.

“With the current credit crisis, it will be impossible for most truckers to replace all their trucks without our financial assistance program,” Steinke said.

Collection of the fee was scheduled to begin in November, but was delayed twice due to Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) review.

“The Clean Trucks Program continues to serve us well, though the fee collection is essential to fully realize the environmental benefits of the program,” Steinke said.

Beginning October 1, 2008, the Port took the unprecedented step of banning the most polluting trucks—the 1988 and older vehicles—the initial ban in a series planned under the Clean Trucks Program. On January 1, 2010, the Port will ban 1993 and older trucks, and un-retrofitted model year 1994 to 2003 trucks. By January 2012 all vehicles 2006 and older will be banned.

The West Coast Marine Terminal Operator Agreement (WCMTOA) created the not-for-profit company PortCheck to collect the Clean Trucks Fee for the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles. The money collected will be transferred to the ports to provide financial assistance for the replacement of thousands of trucks during the next three years.

Under the program, the cargo owner is responsible for paying the Clean Trucks Fee. The fee will be payable by credit card or electronic funds transfer, and must be paid before a container can enter or leave the terminals.

In November, the ports filed with the FMC their PortCheck agreement with private terminal operators, who would develop and operate an online and electronic gate access system to collect the ports’ $35 per twenty-foot-container-unit Clean Trucks Fee.

After the PortCheck agreement was filed with the FMC, the commission ordered an initial 45-day review and then a second 45-day review, which concludes Feb. 13. Furthermore, the FMC has filed a lawsuit to block portions of the Clean Trucks Program as anti-competitive. US District Court Judge Richard J. Leon said he would not rule on the FMC’s request for a preliminary injunction until sometime in 2009.