Port receives Environmental Justice Achievement Award from EPA

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epa-awardsClean Trucks Program recognized with national honor

The Port of Long Beach’s landmark Clean Trucks Program has won the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Environmental Justice Achievement Award — the nation’s highest honor for reducing the impact of pollution on low-income and disadvantaged communities.

The EPA recognized the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles, along with several community, environmental and industry partners, for “setting the bar” for port facilities worldwide. The EPA commended the port stakeholder group that helped develop the trucking program and collaborated to replace thousands of aging, exhaust-spewing trucks with new, clean big-rigs. The program is producing “immediate and ongoing environmental benefits” for local neighborhoods, the EPA said.

“Protecting our neighbors from air pollution is exactly what we set out to do with the Clean Trucks Program,” said Nick Sramek, President of the Long Beach Board of Harbor Commissioners. “We are happy to see this program and our partnership recognized as an example for addressing environmental justice concerns.”

Officially launched October 1, 2008, the Clean Trucks Program is spurring the replacement of the entire trucking fleet at the nation’s largest port complex. It is on track to achieve an 80 percent reduction in truck-related air pollution nearly two years ahead of schedule.

In bestowing the award to the Clean Trucks Program, the EPA recognized the ports and the Clean Air Action Plan Stakeholder Group – environmental groups, labor unions, community groups, industry coalitions, regulators and researchers – who provided input on the development of the program and contributed to the continuing success of the Clean Trucks Program.

The Clean Trucks Program is a gradual phasing out of the oldest trucks. Last year, the 1988 and older big rigs were banned. On New Year’s Day 2010, many more will be barred. And finally by 2012, the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles will allow only trucks with 2007 or newer engines. These engines are 80 percent cleaner than average truck in the fleet a couple years ago.

In phasing out the oldest trucks, the ports have offered financial assistance to those truck owners who needed help to obtain a cleaner truck. Many thousands of trucks have already been replaced. It’s estimated that after the New Year, nearly 8,000 trucks – about 90 percent of the fleet – will meet the stringent 2007 standards.

The only trucks allowed to enter marine terminals at the ports are those that meet environmental, safety and security standards. Access is controlled with electronic devices known as radiofrequency identification tags.

The EPA’s Environmental Justice program’s goal is to “provide an environment where all people enjoy the same degree of protection from environmental and health hazards and equal access to the decision-making process to maintain a healthy environment in which to live, learn, and work.”

For more information on the Environmental Justice Achievement Awards, go to www.polb.com/cleantrucks or http://www.epa.gov/compliance/resources/publications/ej/awards/2009/cleantrucks.pdf.

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