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West Coast ports eye strict emissions standards for trucks, call for zero-emission rigs by 2035

A bill introduced this month in the Washington State House  seeks to require all trucks doing business at port terminals  in Seattle, Tacoma and Vancouver to be powered by 2007 or newer model engines.

The bill, if passed, would require all drayage trucks moving into and out of high-volume ports (with a total of more than 20 million annual tons of “domestic and foreign waterborne trade,” including Seattle and Tacoma) to be of 2007 and newer model year engines by January 1, 2019. It’s a strategy that has been pursued at Los Angeles and Long Beach ports previously, likewise more recently in New York and New Jersey.

Under the terms of the bill, further, by “January 1, 2035, all drayage trucks delivering goods to or receiving goods from a high-volume port must be zero emission vehicles.”

The bill’s introduction follows the Northwest Seaport Alliance’s attempts to enforce a similar ban on pre-2007 emissions spec truck engines at Tacoma and Seattle alliance container ports on April 1 this year, what it dubs the second phase of a plan adopted in 2008, also with Vancouver, B.C., ports in Canada. In 2010, it says, pre-1994 engines were phased out, and the alliance made $15 million in matching grant funding available to trucking companies to upgrade power units, and terminals to invest in gate infrastructure. Under that grant program, “more than 410 trucks were scrapped and replaced,” the alliance says.

The April 1, 2018, deadline date, however, remains in “proposed” status, not set in stone, and represents a delay from a previous date of the first of this year. At that time, the alliance reported more than half of nearly 5,000 trucks serving member international container terminals were still powered by pre-2007 engines, and waived the requirement to upgrade for 90 days pending further consideration.

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Todd Dills is Senior Editor of Overdrive magazine and writes from Nashville, Tenn. He frequently covers business, regulatory and lifestyle topics for the magazine and at OverdriveOnline.com. His work on the “CSA’s Data Trail” series in Overdrive about the federal CSA program was awarded the highest honor in trade journalism – the “Grand Neal” – by American Business Media at the 2014 Jesse H. Neal Awards. Dills’ Channel 19 blog covers a grab bag of on-highway hearsay, owner-operator news and driver views from the roadways the nation over. His work in trucking journalism builds on a background of news feature, fiction and other creative writing and editing. Find him here at the Channel 19 blog and via his Twitter feed, or send tips to tdills@randallreilly.com or via phone at 205-907-2481.