Everyone wants to reduce pollution, but not everyone agrees on how to go about it.
The National Industrial Transportation League (NITL) says it strongly opposes a proposal to place restrictions on trucks operating at ports along the California coast. That proposal is part of the San Pedro Ports Clean Air Action Plan, introduced by the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach.
The plan's objective is to reduce vehicle and other emissions affecting air quality in the San Pedro Bay area. By imposing fees and restrictions on operators of "dirty" diesel trucks, port officials and local political leaders hope to eliminate those vehicles from cargo terminals within five years.
NITL Executive Vice President Peter J. Gatti says that while his group encourages efforts to "go green," there are problems with the proposal. In particular, NITL objects to a provision that would require all drivers operating at the port to be motor carrier employees rather than independent contract drivers. According to Gatti, that requirement would have absolutely no impact on the environment. Instead, he says, it could drive a number of the small and mediumsized truckers that currently serve the ports out of business.
The group also charges that the plan could have unintended negative consequences. "While the league is in support of the plan's stated goals … of fostering a clean environment, we believe that it will unnecessarily increase costs, reduce competition, threaten vital operating capacity, and most importantly, have a minimal effect toward improving the environment," NITL said in a statement. Rather than imposing fees and restrictions, NITL suggested that economic incentives would lead the private sector to introduce cleaner trucks in a similar—if not shorter—time period.
Meanwhile, shipping giant APL is hoping its efforts to curb exhaust emissions will not only prove successful but will also serve as a model for other ocean carriers. This summer, APL will test a new method of "cold-ironing" aboard its 863-foot container vessel APL China. With cold-ironing, ships obtain electricity by plugging into a clean, shoreside power source while docked. That allows them to shut down their onboard diesel-powered generators, potentially eliminating 1,000 pounds of exhaust pollutants per day.
Because of its environmental benefits, port authorities and air quality regulators want to promote cold-ironing. But carriers have been less enthusiastic, citing cost and safety concerns.
The new procedure developed by APL's engineers should substantially reduce those concerns, says APL Americas President John Bowe. Instead of the 10 cumbersome cable connections required under conventional methods, APL's procedure connects a single high-voltage cable from a shoreside power source to a redesigned circuit in the vessel's bow.
The cost to retrofit a ship for cold-ironing under APL's method would be about $225,000, far less than industry projections of $1.5 million for the current procedure. The method would also improve safety because the connection would require only one relatively small cable, and the vessel could switch over to the shoreside source without temporarily cutting power.