In a recent Pacific Merchant Shipping Association (PMSA) opinion piece written by economist Jock O’Connell, O’Connell worries that the California Air Resources Board (CARB) may be burdening California ports by failing to make sufficient provision for the challenges of transitioning harbor trucks and marine terminal cargo-handling equipment to zero emissions:

“CARB had already been pressing the state’s logistics industries, including its seaports, to embrace zero emission modes of moving goods. In particular, CARB has targeted the state’s ports, so often labeled by editorialists as the state’s biggest stationary sources of toxic emissions that one might wrongly conclude that the ports have done nothing to improve matters. The remarkable progress the ports have actually made in slashing emissions and the unsympathetic response from the air quality regulators is a testament to the old adage that no good deed goes unpunished.

Adding to the challenge of ensuring that supplies of electricity will be sufficient to meet predictably high levels of demand, state policy has been to focus on the development of renewable energy sources such as wind and solar while diminishing its reliance on power plants that burn fossil fuels or use nuclear reactors. It will be a tricky, changing horses in midstream transition.”

In response, Heather Tomley, Managing Director of Planning and Environmental Affairs, Port of Long Beach, was asked whether sufficient permitting and funding would be available to meet CARB’s proposed Advanced Clean Fleet Regulations for new zero-emission trucks in 2024.

Tomley responded: “At the last CARB meeting… stakeholders were addressing concerns over infrastructure. And we have had this conversation with CARB staff as well. CARB staff needs to represent to their Board they have made that evaluation. It’s definitely been an issue that’s been highlighted and that they’ve focused on. We will have to see what they move forward with. Ultimately, it is a decision that the State is going to be evaluating and making based on the information that they have gathered.”

Proposed 2024 Zero Emission Truck Mandates

The California Air Resources Board proposes Advanced Clean Fleet Regulations that will require new harbor drayage trucks entering commercial fleets in 2024 to be zero emission: “The history of turnover in harbor trucking at the Port is that we see a 15-17% turnover per year on the basis of 23,000 registered harbor trucks.”

Tomley said the Port of Long Beach is working to provide new charging stations for harbor trucks: “One of the challenges meeting this goal is to have sufficient charging stations available for topping off or for overnight charging. The responsibility for this is regionwide in which permit approvals by localities for charging stations will need to be approved and constructed and secondly, there will be a need for sufficient grant funding to finance these installations.

The Port has identified two locations that will provide charging for trucks and there is an RFP (Request for Proposal) for a third location. There will need to be many more charging stations. We know that some companies are…

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