Today, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Congressman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), the most senior member from the Northeast on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, introduced the Clean Ports Act of 2013 in the U.S. Senate and U.S. House of Representatives respectively.
"Congress must act to provide New York, and cities all across the country, with the common sense tools they need to improve the quality of air and quality of life for millions of people," said Senator Gillibrand "It's time to update federal laws and allow our nation's ports to help reduce diesel emissions and improve air quality for all New Yorkers by putting clean trucks on the road."
"With an estimated 87 million Americans living in communities near ports which fail to meet federal air quality standards, Congress must take action to address the pollution generated by ports and port trucking," said Congressman Nadler. "Pollution from dirty trucks greatly increase rates of asthma, cancer, and heart disease, creating a growing public health crisis. The Clean Ports Act will update federal environmental law to allow forward-thinking ports to implement clean truck programs that will improve air quality and decrease incidents of pollution caused illnesses."
Ports, supported by their local governments, have begun taking the initiative to address a highly polluting drayage system. In 2008, the Port of Los Angeles implemented a Clean Truck Program. In just one year, the program reportedly replaced nearly 6,000 dirty diesel trucks with clean diesel and alternative energy vehicles. This eliminated 30 tons of diesel particulate matter which will reduce diesel particulate pollution by an estimated 70 percent and is equivalent to removing 200,000 automobiles from the road.
Unfortunately, the program was challenged in federal court. Without a change in federal law, ports might not be able to enact simple measures, such as the requirement that motor carriers use off street parking, or that a truck display a placard with a phone number for the public to call regarding truck safety.
Ports around the country -- like the port terminals in New York and New Jersey, Oakland, Seattle and Miami -- are grappling with similar obstacles presented by port trucking, but are unable to implement a comprehensive program given the legal questions. The Clean Ports Act will update federal law to ensure that ports can enact and enforce Clean Truck programs.
This legislation is supported by a broad coalition of civic, environment, labor, and civil rights groups such as the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, Change to Win, Blue Green Alliance, International Brotherhood of Teamsters, Sierra Club, Apollo Alliance and Natural Resources Defense Council.