Los Angeles Harbor Commission President David Freeman urged his fellow commissioners on Friday to vote by Dec. 14 on the long-delayed program to reduce diesel truck emissions at the ports.


The request, issued during a meeting of the boards of the Los Angeles and Long Beach ports, is the first indication of a specific date for the vote since they missed their self-imposed September deadline.


The ports originally planned to vote on the controversial program in July, but pushed the date back after complaints from the trucking industry forced the ports to reconsider certain elements.


The plan, part of the sweeping Clean Air Action Plan approved last year, would reduce diesel truck emissions by replacing the 16,000 short-haul trucks that serve the ports with cleaner rigs.


But motor carriers are up in arms over the provision that drivers, most of whom are currently considered independent contractors, become trucking company employees. This, along with related fees, would drive up costs and force perhaps hundreds of motor carriers out of business, the trucking industry says.


The harbor commissioners called a public meeting on Friday to give various stakeholders, including trucking companies, environmental advocates and retail associations, the opportunity to give input on the plan.


The boards said they are hoping to move forward soon and Freeman asked that they set a deadline of mid-December for the date.

"We've been yakking about this issue for almost a year," he said. "The idea of putting it off more and pontificating more is just not acceptable."


In an interview after the meeting, Freeman said he took away several good suggestions offered by stakeholders that may be included in the final plan, such as urging the federal government to grant a temporary exception to anti-trust laws that would allow motor carriers to set higher rates while the program is being implemented.


In any case, he added, the boards need to adopt at least some elements of the program soon, even if they do not approve the entire plan.

For reprint and licensing requests for this article, CLICK HERE.