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Los Angeles, Long Beach delay vote on proposed truck clean-up fee

LOS ANGELES port officials have delayed a harbour commission vote on a proposed truck fee that would help finance the switch towards cleaner vehicles, on the grounds that more time and talks were required

26 February 2020 - 19:00

LOS ANGELES port officials have delayed a harbour commission vote on a proposed truck fee that would help finance the switch towards cleaner vehicles, on the grounds that more time and talks were required.

The Long Beach Harbour Commission has also postponed its vote on the truck fee that would be used to replace truck fleets with cleaner-running vehicles, reported the Long Beach Daily Breeze.



'We're going to take a little more time to discuss where this is going,' LA port boss Gene Seroka said. 'We all have the same goal and the same mission. We need to get industry, the manufacturers and the suppliers' onboard.



Mr Seroka said the matter will be raised at a future meeting and perhaps during a joint meeting with the Port of Long Beach.



While environmentalists say the fee is far too low to meet the zero-emissions truck goals by 2035, others argue that the fees could deter port business and wind up placing greater financial burden on truck drivers, who remain some of the lowest paid in the port workforce supply chain.



Officials for both ports have said they believe the US$10 fee strikes the right balance, addressing environmental concerns while also protecting truck drivers from footing the bill.



Natural Resources Defence Council attorney Heather Kryczka told Los Angeles port commissioners that the fees need to be higher. The goal, she said, should be to collect enough money to pay for zero-emissions trucks now, not just less-polluting fossil fuel models.



'[Cheaper] natural gas trucks will distract you from reaching the [zero-emissions] goal,' she said. The fee range under discussion would be from $10, advocated by the ports, to $50, which advocates say is a minimum in order to reach the no-emissions goal for port trucks.



The ports would charge $10 per laden TEU that goes in or out of the twin port complex. Rates would apply to cargo owners and be implemented in 2020 on trucks hauling laden containers entering or leaving the terminals. There also would be possible rebates for trucks that meet near-zero or zero emissions standards.



Opponents of the proposal argue that higher fees will be counter-productive, as cargo would be sent elsewhere to avoid the additional charges.



'We won't have any need for electric trucks because we won't have any cargo to move,' said Harbour Trucking Association CEO Weston LaBar, adding that there already are ongoing discussions among larger importers to divert freight to other ports in light of the incoming truck fees.



He also said that until the infrastructure with charging stations is provided, such vehicles are a moot point.



'Until the government invests in the infrastructure, we can't buy the trucks,' he said. 'They don't exist in the quantities they need and we don't have an infrastructure to support them if they did.'


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