A group of shippers is partnering with the Port of Jacksonville in a
voluntary initiative to reduce air pollution caused by shuttle trucks serving
the Florida port and their warehouses.
The Jacksonville Port Authority said Monday it has joined the
Coalition for Responsible Transportation (CRT), representing cargo owners,
trucking companies, ocean carriers and partners such as the Environmental
Defense Fund and the Retail Industry Leaders Association.
The CRT, building on its expertise implementing market-based
approaches to emission-reduction in other cities, will
help Jaxport this year develop a replacement program for older
trucks, Coalition Executive Director James Jack, said in an interview.
Many ports, whether or not the surrounding cities exceed federal
clean air standards, feel pressure to ensure public health and are implementing
incentive programs to convince independent truckers to switch to trucks with
modern engines, or install retrofit devices that trap particulate matter and
other byproducts of diesel combustion. The efforts are seen as ways to
forestall political, legal or regulatory actions in the community that might
prevent the ports from expanding facilities or undertaking further economic
Most shuttle trucks used in local port operations are much
older than those used on highways. Small operators tend to buy used trucks that
have exceeded their useful life in long-haul operations because of the lower
cost. Trucks made in 1994 or before emit about 60-times more particulate matter
than 2007 Environmental Protection Agency-compliant engines, which burn ultra-low sulfur fuel and have
diesel particulate filters or other emissions technology.
Particulate matter is linked to premature deaths, heart attacks,
childhood asthma and other respiratory problems.
The CRT began six years ago as a private-sector alternative to
proposed regulations by Southern California ports governing various aspects of
trucking operations. Many big shippers committed to use logistics service
providers that meet the ports' clean air-standards and help owner-operators
with various types of financial aid to acquire new vehicles with clean-diesel,
or alternative fuel, engines.
The CRT has since helped develop truck-emission reduction programs
in the Pacific Northwest and the Port of New York and New Jersey, and the past two
years has focused its efforts in the Southeast.
Port authorities in Virginia and South Carolina have incentive
programs for truckers to invest in modern equipment and the CRT recently began
working with the Georgia Ports Authority to build a framework for a clean-truck
program, Jack said.
The South Carolina Ports Authority, for example, has doubled to
$10,000 the amount of money it is awarding at the Port of Charleston toward the
purchase of a 2004-model year or newer tractor, along with the scrap value of
the old vehicle. The program has had $500,000 in funding each of the first two
years, with half the money supplied by the port authority and half by the state
using Diesel Emission Reduction Act grants from the EPA.
In June, the agency expanded its SmartWay program for highway
trucks to the drayage industry with the help of the CRT and the Environmental
Defense Fund. Under SmartWay, participating shippers give preference to motor
carriers that have adopted technology and operating practices to improve fuel
efficiency and reduce diesel emissions.
CRT retailers such as Home Depot and Lowe's have committed to book
at least 75 percent of their drayage moves with SmartWay trucking companies.
The CRT has learned from past experience what makes a
truck-replacement program work and how ports can maximize their investments. It
shares those best practices so ports can "develop a program that is
effective, can be implemented quickly and has a significant impact on air
quality," Jack said.
"We're actively seeking options for voluntarily reducing our impacts further and this partnership will allow us access to ideas that work and methods for implementing," JAXPORT spokeswoman Nancy Rubin said in an e-mail.
Last month, the Port of Jacksonville announced the receipt of $585,000 from the state of Florida to install devices on its diesel cranes
that oxidize pollutants and unburned hydrocarbons in the exhaust stream.
The pursuit of similar policies by several major ports in the
Southeast is positive, Jack said, because it creates a level playing
field and ensures nobody gains a competitive advantage through inaction.
"Having comparable truck programs in major ports around the
region is so important because the situation we want to avoid is having trucks
that are too dirty for one port migrating to a neighboring port" and
shifting the problem, he said.
The CRT also brokers financial support from the federal
government, shippers, and transport providers, as well as low-interest loans
from interested lenders, to help subsidize capital investment in new trucks by
The primary incentive, Jack said, is the opportunity for drivers
operating as independent contractors to gain guaranteed business with some of
the largest cargo shippers in the nation.
"We're hoping to create demand for these trucks, so there is
an incentive for trucking companies to buy clean trucks because it gives them a
competitive advantage in the market," he said.
The financial assistance provided by cargo owners varies from port to port and often depends on the relationship between a retailer and the drayage company. Ultimately, the commitment to do business with motor carriers that switch to more expensive equipment with emission controls translates into higher rates for cargo owners.
"We don't mind paying more to ensure we have a clean fleet moving our boxes," even though other shippers still remain focused getting the lowest cost from their service providers, Jack said.
The programs that have been most successful, Jack said, have included shippers willing to pay higher rates coupled with incentives from the public sector.
Jack said the CRT in February hopes to complete its first
nationwide inventory of trucks that have been upgraded through its efforts. - Eric Kulisch