San Pedro Bay Port Commissions Unanimously Approve Zero-Only Clean Truck Fund Spending Plans

The Harbor Commissions for both the Port of Los Angeles (POLA) and the Port of Long Beach (POLB) have separately and unanimously approved spending plans for their respective Clean Truck Fund (CTF) programs that exclude support for low NOx trucks that are commercially available today and provide immediate emission reductions. Instead, the funding plans will exclusively fund incentives for zero-emission trucks and infrastructure projects.

This was an especially disappointing course change for the POLB, who had previously included funding for low NOx trucks in their proposed spending plan. The rationale for their abrupt reversal was based on concerns that delivery delays resulting from supply chain disruptions would complicated the timely deployment of low NOx trucks prior to anticipated action by the California Air Resources Board (CARB) to restrict new drayage truck registry registrations to zero-emission vehicles starting November 2023. In fact, CARB has not made any changes to the registry thus far. And, those being discussed as part of the draft Advance Clean Fleet rule have not been finalized and could actually be modified during the process prior to final adoption. Further, all trucks are experiencing delivery delays, not just natural gas trucks, so why single them out in this discussion.

It was also noted during the POLA Commission meeting that fleets usually purchase drayage trucks on the secondary market for a lot less than the cost of a new truck (approximately $100,000 less).  Since there currently is not a secondary market for zero-emission trucks, either more money will need to be provided to cover this cost differential or fleets, especially smaller ones, will simply purchase a used diesel while they still can get it under the registry. If true, then what level of emission reductions can we honestly expect to achieve for those adjacent communities who need it the most?

Low NOx trucks, powered by renewable natural gas (RNG), are immediately available, cost-effective and can significant reduce toxic and harmful emissions.  Further, RNG use in the transportation sector currently has a net carbon negative intensity, as confirmed by data provided through the Low Carbon Fuel Standard, so it can help California reach carbon neutrality today.

The CFT is a rate program that is part of the ports’ Clean Air Action Plans to reduce pollution at the facilities. Fee collection is scheduled to begin this week on April 1. The rate will be $10 per twenty-foot equivalent unit for nonexempt trucks. CARB-certified low NOx trucks have a limited-time exemption from the CTF but zero-emission truck are permanently exempt. The CFT is projected to generate up to $90 million from the San Pedro Bay ports in its first year; revenue will be used to fund a zero-emissions truck voucher program and infrastructure projects.