Retailers seek California emissions rule, tolls

user-gravatar Headshot

Retailers, railroads and shippers issued a white paper Monday, March 26, that advocates a state emissions standard for California diesel trucks as well as user fees and tolls for infrastructure projects. The paper proposes that the emissions standard be imposed on harbor drayage trucks in the ports sooner than on trucks outside the ports. Trucks that do not meet the standards should pay a fee that would be used to provide low-cost loans or lease-purchase arrangements for owner-operators who want to upgrade their trucks, the paper proposes.

California legislators have tried to mitigate congestion and air pollution through means such as container taxes, but the problem could be better resolved through the private sector, says Erik Autor, National Retail Federation vice president and international trade counsel. “We are proposing that absolutely no taxpayer money be used to replace old trucks as some have proposed,” Autor says. “We strongly believe that using general obligation bonds for this purpose is not a good way to upgrade the harbor truck fleet.” Instead, retailers, importers and exporters could pay for cleaner port trucks through freight rates, the paper argues.

The paper calls for establishment of a Southern California Corridor Authority, comprised of state and local governments and private organizations, to identify user fees, road tolls and other financing options for infrastructure projects. It identifies principles for forming public-private partnerships to fund these goals.

The projects specified in the paper include:

  • Replacement of the Gerald Desmond Bridge;
  • State Route 47 Expressway improvements;
  • Interstate 110/SR-47 Connectors improvements;
  • I-710 improvements, potentially including truck-only lanes;
  • The Southern California International Gateway near-dock rail project; and
  • Modernization and expansion of the Intermodal Container Transfer Facility near-dock rail facility in Los Angeles.
  • The paper, titled “A Program for Establishing Public-Private Partnerships for Infrastructure Financing and the Improvement of Harbor Drayage Trucks in the State of California,” was prepared by NRF, the American Association of Railroads, the Pacific Merchant Shipping Association, the Waterfront Coalition and other groups. It is available as a 14-page PDF download at