By Patrick Burnson, Executive Editor
In a move to replicate programs gaining traction on the West Coast, The Coalition for Responsible Transporation (CRT) and Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) announced a joint “Clean Trucks Initiative” earlier this week.
“This collaborative effort is a critical first step toward addressing air pollutants released from heavy duty diesel trucks, traditionally one of the largest sources of pollution at ports,” said EDF toxologist, Dr. Elena Craft.
The groups made the announcement before the South Atlantic and Caribbean Ports Association and highlighted opportunities for other ports and their customers to form similar partnerships.
The “Clean Trucks Initiative” builds a partnership between the retail industry and trucking and port communities to solve a critical environmental challenge: air quality in and around ports. The framework includes guidelines for engaging stakeholders, creating an action plan as well as implementation strategies.
It was not immediately clear, however, whether the new program will model itself after the one at the Port of Long Beach, where drivers are permitted to be independent owner-operators, or whether it will resemble the plan at the Port of Los Angeles, where Teamster-only drivers are part of the mandate. In any case, it appears to have shipper support.
“Since we use these ports every day, it is essential to retailers like Lowe’s that successful clean truck programs are enacted at our nation’s ports,” said Steve Palmer, Vice President of Transportation for Lowe’s, which is a CRT member. “This initiative has our full support. It aligns with Lowe’s ongoing efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the transportation sector. This initiative allows retailers to make cleaner and more efficient transportation choices.”
The CRT/EDF Clean Trucks Initiative is a framework designed to facilitate a working partnership with individual ports across the country in a manner that recognizes their individual needs and the needs of their stakeholders. The framework also recognizes the critical need to partner with the trucking community to ensure that clean truck programs are economically sustainable for the thousands of drivers who service our nation’s ports by providing them with public and private sources of financial support to retire older, higher-polluting trucks.
Key features of the CRT/EDF Clean Trucks Initiative include:
engaging with port communities and stakeholders to identify opportunities to partner together to reduce diesel pollution from port drayage activities;
-conducting an emissions inventory from port-related activities to assess opportunities for air quality improvement;
-developing a collaborative and stakeholder-driven process to set goals for air quality improvement from port drayage activities;
-creating an action plan for meeting those air quality goals that recognizes the unique needs of individual ports and ensures that drivers have the financial support they need to retire, high-polluting trucks; and
-implementing air quality action plans through the collaborative efforts of ports and their customers.
As reported in LM, other “clean truck programs” have been endorsed by a wide variety of industry stakeholders. At issue, however, is whether a free enterprise environment for drayage operators will be able to remain part of the solution.