In response to Mayor Ron Dellums’ request, the Bay Area Air Quality Management District (BAAQMD) and the California Air Resources Board (ARB) announced an additional $3 million in grants for truck drivers and small businesses to comply with the state’s new air quality regulations, which govern Port truck diesel emissions, set to begin on January 1st.

“While the new emissions regulations for Port trucks embraces Oakland’s goals of reducing environmental impacts, my office has been working collaboratively to provide the much-needed support for the truckers trying to comply with such regulations,” said Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums. “This announcement is a significant step in the right direction. As our region continues to find solutions amidst a severe national recession, I am deeply appreciative of the state and local air district’s continued efforts to partner with our city.”

Truck drivers who submitted timely applications for retrofit funding to the BAAQMD, but were denied because of insufficient funds may be eligible for the new grants.  The new funding will provide grants of $5,000 per truck toward the cost of retrofitting the vehicle with a diesel soot filter. The goal is to clean up an additional 580 trucks operating at the Port of Oakland over the next four months.  The air regulators will also continue to talk with particulate filter retrofit manufacturers about offering truckers flexible payment plans for the remaining costs of the devices that are not covered by the grants.

Mayor Dellums said: “Going forward, we are committed to working with our esteemed colleagues at the state and local level, and will continue to advocate on behalf of our truckers and the Port of Oakland with our partners in Washington D.C. to try to identify additional funding to meet our goals.”

In a letter sent to the ARB and the BAAQMD last week (letter attached to this email), Mayor Dellums requested that the agencies address the difficulties being confronted by the truck drivers serving the Port of Oakland who were denied truck retrofit funds and unable to comply with the new regulations by January 1st.  Mayor Dellums expressed his commitment to advocate for additional federal support for the truck retrofit and replacement program.

In the letter, the mayor also asked for an extension of time to truck drivers who applied for the retrofit program on time and were denied funds based upon insufficient funding resources. Truck drivers whose applications were accepted have been given until April 30th to implement their retrofits and the mayor requested that a similar extension for drivers whose applications were denied be implemented. Mayor Dellums stated in the letter: “We also need to be mindful of the individual, family, and community health impacts associated with unemployment stressors.”

Air quality officials laid out a five-step process for people who were previously denied retrofit funding for trucks serving the Port of Oakland:

  • Come to the Bay Area Air District’s trucker’s information center office at 11 Burma Road in Oakland between 2:30 p.m. and 6 p.m. daily between Jan. 4 and Jan. 8;
  • Express continued interest in receiving funding to Air District staff, at the $5,000 level. This information will be recorded and placed in the applicant’s file;
  • Be prepared to submit any additional required information to the Air District (ownership records, device quotes, proof of mileage, proof of port visits, etc.), before Jan. 22, if required;
  • Be prepared for a truck pre-inspection to confirm eligibility; and
  • Be prepared to quickly line up the additional funding or financing to purchase a soot filter that complies with the port truck rule and that works on your truck.

With today’s announcement, state, local and federal agencies and the Port of Oakland now have provided $25 million in funding to help clean up more than 1,500 trucks at the Port of Oakland. ARB passed the port truck rule in December 2007, which requires truck owners operating in and out of ports and intermodal rail yards to retrofit and replace their trucks over the next several years. ARB estimates that the regulation will prevent 580 premature deaths over the next five years, with benefits being the most dramatic in the communities where port trucks are heavily concentrated. ARB passed an additional rule last December that will clean up the remaining truck fleet operating in California estimated at one million vehicles.

The ARB listed diesel particulate matter as a toxic air contaminant over a decade ago in order to protect public health. Exposure to diesel soot emissions can increase the risk of lung cancer, plus asthma, bronchitis and other respiratory diseases.  Through its diesel risk reduction strategy, ARB plans on reducing toxic diesel emissions in the state 85 percent by the year 2020.