Inside Box: Greg Owen of Carson-area warehouse operator Ability Tri-Modal has worked to comply with emissions standards.

Inside Box: Greg Owen of Carson-area warehouse operator Ability Tri-Modal has worked to comply with emissions standards. Photo by Ringo Chiu.

Outcry from warehouse owners, trucking companies, and business groups has spurred Supervisor Sheila Kuehl, a newly appointed member of the South Coast Air Quality Management District board, to scale back her proposal for new warehouse emissions rules.

Reacting to complaints from opponents of the regulations, who told the Business Journal her proposed guidelines would devastate the region’s logistics sector, Kuehl said she is revising the plan to apply only to new and renovated warehouses.

“Our proposed warehouse rule will only apply to new facilities and substantial renovations,” she said in an email last week. “Since industry is claiming they are already trying, there must be little impact on the supply chain.”

The Los Angeles County supervisor had originally proposed emissions rules that would apply to all warehouses, which some business owners and organizations said would have forced a reduction in truck trips to and from the facilities. The revised rules could still limit warehouses’ ability to expand or modernize their operations.

“We could not service our customer base if this takes effect,” Ability Tri-Modal owner Greg Owen said before Kuehl had softened her stance. “And the end result would be even more and longer truck trips to warehouses outside the region, which creates even more emissions. It’s sheer idiocy.”

The company operates five Carson-area warehouses that employ more than 200 people and has its own fleet of trucks, Owen said.

He said he has tried to comply with air emission mandates handed down by Sacramento and local air quality regulators in recent years. He has installed the latest clean engine technology in his trucks, purchased electric forklifts for his warehouses, and eliminated some truck trips, among other steps.

But air quality regulators have lately been pushing for more.

Kuehl’s amendments are part of the management district’s proposed air quality plan, a periodically revised document the agency must produce to show how it intends to reach increasingly stringent federal and state clean air mandates. The plan will be considered at a March 3 AQMD board meeting.

Two of the amendments target the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach as well as the region’s five commercial airports, including Los Angeles International Airport. Another amendment – the one that drew the most immediate fire from business groups – was directed at warehouse distribution centers.

Under all three amendments, the district must draw up rules by which the facilities reduce emissions of nitrogen oxide and particulate matter – both of which are commonly found in vehicle exhaust – to meet future federal and state emissions standards.


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