Port officials on Thursday said they will vote this week on portions of the controversial and long-delayed program that would reduce diesel truck emissions in San Pedro Bay.

The Long Beach Board of Harbor Commissioners is scheduled to vote during its Oct. 29 meeting on an implementation timeline that would ban the oldest and most-polluting rigs beginning Oct. 1, 2008. The board of the Port of Los Angeles, meanwhile, plans to vote on a similar implementation schedule during its Nov. 1 meeting.

The proposal under consideration in Long Beach would initially ban all trucks manufactured prior to 1989. By Jan. 1, 2014, the port would restrict entry to all trucks not meeting 2007 federal air standards.

The $1.8 billion program, part of the ports' environmental initiative known as the Clean Air Action Plan, would replace or retrofit virtually all of the 16,000 short-haul diesel rigs at the ports and reduce truck emissions by as much as 80 percent, port officials say.

The ports planned to begin the program by January of 2007, but were forced to push back the start date after the trucking industry mounted considerable opposition and forced the ports to reconsider certain elements.

Many motor carriers objected to the requirement that they hire employee drivers, most of whom are currently independent contractors. This, along with a proposed gate fee, would drive up costs and force many companies out of business, they say.

The board will not be voting on these controversial portions of the program during the Monday meeting. Lee Peterson, a spokesman for the Port of Long Beach, said the board has not dropped those elements from the plan and may vote on them at a later date.

Members of the port's executive staff were not available for comment.

Though this vote is perhaps the least controversial of the program, motor carriers have complained that the ports have not been forthcoming with information. One trucking industry official reached after the ports scheduled their vote was blindsided by the announcement, saying motor carriers are forced to get updates on the program from the press rather than the ports.

Los Angeles Harbor Commission President David Freeman recently said he wants the ports to approve the entire plan before Dec. 14.

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