leave drivers fuming
Idling turns big-rig trucks into pollution machines.
A bill by Assemblyman Alan Lowenthal could rectify
the problemif it passes in the state Senate
Friday June 14, 10am: Trucks dominate the 710 Freeway, typical for the morning commute. A lack of scheduling by shippers forces truckers to get stuck in rush-hour traffic and wait long hours idling in the port. Meanwhile, our air gets far more unhealthy.
By Tom Politeo
One of the biggest environmental health problems in Southern California
grows daily inch by inch.
Big-rig trucks queue up in the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach waiting to pick up and drop off their cargo. On a bad day they may line up for hours, creeping forward a few feet at a time, until they get to drop off or pick up their load.
Worst of all for the truck drivers, they have no control over
the situation. Its the shippers who handleor mishandlethe
logistics and cause delays at the port. But it is the truckers and the rest
of us who suffer.
While the truck drivers are waiting, they are idling. As they idle, their diesel engines spew toxic fumes, an exhaust that is responsible for causing cancer, triggering asthma and accelerating heart disease. (See box below.)
At greatest risk are the drivers and longshore workers who must breathe this polluted air. But they are not the only ones. This toxic cloud affects local communities and spreads across the Los Angeles basin.
Further, while the trucks idlebecause its not practical to keep turning the engines on and offthey are contributing to global warming and depleting our oil supply.
Waiting times are often in excess of two hours, according to the office of state Assemblyman Alan Lowenthal (D-Long Beach), whose district includes both ports.
During this waiting time, the drivers lose money. Most of them are paid by the load; the extra time they spend comes out of their pockets, as does the cost of the extra fuel they burn.
(c) EDNA BONACICH
Louie Gianpappa, Secretary Treasurer of Teamsters Local 692
(c) EDNA BONACICH
Ramon Ponce DeLeon, President of ILWU Local 13
As they lose money and time, they put their health, and ours,
on the line.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency considers a risk of 300 pulmonary deaths per million per year significant. In the greater Los Angeles area, the rate is 1,200 to 2,100 per year. This is unconscionable and we have a responsibility to protect our communitys health, Lowenthal said.
The reason this polluting cycle continues is because shipping companies that
move cargo through the ports dont incur any of the costs associated with
the drivers waiting time. As such, theres no financial incentive
for them to better manage truck arrivals and departures.
To address this problem, Assemblyman Lowenthal authored AB 2650, which will reduce the idling time to a maximum of 30 minutes per truck or impose fines on the companies which operate the terminals the trucks are accessing. This will significantly reduce total idling timeand the pollution it createsin ports up and down the coast.
The bill is supported by the Sierra Club, the Teamsters, the International Longshore and Warehouse Union and the Long Beach Alliance for Children With Asthma.
About 65 union supporters turned out at a rally in Long Beach to protest the
Port of Long Beachs non-support of the bill.
On June 14, the alliance held a forum in Long Beach to bring attention to childhood
asthma and support Lowenthals bill. Speakers included Rob McConnell, associate
professor of preventive medicine at USCs
Keck School of Medicine, and Lowenthal.
Peggy Preacely, coordinator with Long Beach Alliance for Children With Asthma, greets Alan Lowenthal at the June 14 community forum.
Opposition has come from shipping companies that would be forced to schedule
truck arrivals or face fines.
AB 2650 sailed through the Assembly with a 66 to 7 vote, though it was changed in the process. Lowenthal originally sought a 15-minute cap on idling.
For more information, you can contact Alan Lowenthals office in Sacramento:
Assemblymember Alan Lowenthal
P.O. Box 942849
Sacramento, CA 94249-0001
Fax: (916) 319-2154
Questions: (916) 319-2054