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Ports Realize Benefits of Fleet Cleanup

February 26, 2009

Hundreds of 1988-and-older trucks have been banned since October as part of a plan to clean up dirty air around the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, according to the Los Angeles Times.

For more than a decade, residents of surrounding neighborhoods have complained about pollution from the ports, and 1,200 annual premature deaths have been linked to the ports' air pollution problems. But in October, the ports launched the cleanup, and it's beginning to have a beneficial effect.

Trucks that don't meet 2007 air pollution standards began paying a $70 fee last week each time they haul cargo to and from the ports. This week, the first of a fleet of electric trucks will debut. And within three years, most ships will be able to plug into the ports' electrical grid and turn off their exhaust-emitting diesel engines. 

The effort has impressed the National Resources Defense Council, one of the ports' toughest critics. It praised the step in October to remove about 2,000 trucks that were at least 20 years old. As a result, the group estimated that diesel particulates emissions may have been reduced 50 percent. 

Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said the new fee collection "marks a milestone in our efforts to clean up the ports as we roll ahead with taking 16,800 dirty-diesel trucks off the road for good." 

About 3,000 new clean diesel trucks have already joined the fleet, which is well above the 2,000 new trucks both ports said that they had hoped to have in place by now. 

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