Massport moves forward on clean trucks
September 19, 2011 - LM Editorial
In keeping with a national trend, The Massachusetts Port Authority is developing its own “Clean Trucks Program.”
Today’s announcement included news that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has “teamed up” with the port to establish a program giving owners of older trucks servicing Conley Container Terminal an incentive to replace the vehicles with ones that are 2007 emission compliant or newer.
With a $500,000 EPA Diesel Emissions Reduction Act, a total of $1.5 million will be available to provide truck owners with 50 percent of the replacement cost, up to $25,000, of older trucks which are a primary source of port-related air emissions.
In an interview with LM last month, Massport’s executive director, Mike Leone, said unionization of drivers was not a mandate for this program.
“This program regulates trucks not truckers,” Leone said today. “The program is focused on trucking companies and independent operators.”
The two government agencies expect up to 60 older trucks will be replaced, with truck owners contributing at least half of the replacement cost. The newer trucks will dramatically reduce lifetime emissions resulting in significant air quality and public health benefits. The program is expected to improve air quality in and around the South Boston terminal at a time when container shipments are projected to grow by up to 50 percent in the coming years.
The Clean Truck Program is expected to start yielding results later this year or in early 2012. While the exact emissions reduction will not be known until each replacement vehicle is identified, it is estimated the program will eliminate more than 400 tons of hydrocarbons, 2800 tons of carbon monoxide, 630 tons of nitrogen oxides and more than 30 tons of particulate matter from the environment.
Older trucks serving Conley are a primary source of port-related air emissions. In January, Massport submitted a grant application to the EPA for $500,000 to replace trucks that are 15 to 26 years old with a 2007 emission compliant truck. The government funding would cover 50 percent of the cost for the replacement truck, and the truck owner would cover the remaining 50 percent.
Last June, the Massport Board voted to get the Clean Truck Program underway with or without federal funding, by providing $1 million in support. The Authority felt the commitment was important given additional service to Conley in the form of weekly service from Southeast Asia region through the Suez Canal and the initiation of a new feeder service from Halifax, Canada. The EPA funding will be used in the first phase of the program, and it will be expanded with Massport funding.
To ensure truck upgrades would provide long term environmental and health benefits to the South Boston community, agreements with each truck owner will require the truck owner to perform all required maintenance and repair, and require the owner continue to use the upgraded truck to regularly haul containers to and from Conley. The old truck engine must be scrapped and proof provided to Massport and the EPA. The government funds will go to the truck dealership and not the truck owner.
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