Hundreds of port truck drivers in Seattle, Washington, recently parked their rigs and successfully argued for a delay in the enforcement of a new emissions mandate that would have required many port drivers to immediately upgrade to newer trucks.
On Tuesday, February 6th, truck drivers who operate in the Seattle and Tacoma ports showed up to a conference held by the The Northwest Seaport Alliance (NWSA), the state’s port agency, to voice their concerns and demand that the enforcement of the mandate be cancelled or delayed, in order to have more time to develop a new solution to the state’s emission concerns.
The emissions bill, dubbed the Clean Truck Mandate, would have prevented all pre-2007 trucks from operating in Seattle and Tacoma ports after April 1st, 2017. An estimated 47% of port truck driver are not in compliance with the mandate, and would have been forced to shut down or immediately upgrade their trucks in order to continue working.
Many port drivers say upgrading to the newer trucks with diesel particulate (emissions) filters is impractical for the typical short-range trips that a port driver makes. Some drivers who did upgrade have complained that complication from the emission filters end up causing their new trucks to sit in the shop for repairs on a regular basis, causing drivers to rack up thousands in repair bills.
LiveTrucking.com spoke to one port driver, Luis Gonzalez, who described the scene at the recent conference:
We decided to show up and put a fight, the conference room was packed and there are hundreds more on the aisle. We are ready to involve hundreds more trucks and go on strike. This mandate has targeted only the local truckers. The newer equipment doesn’t work for local runs, it breaks down every time the DEF system clogs and repairs is always in the thousands. For Some truckers it made sense to upgrade since they get on the road and come from outside, not for us. We are thousands of truckers fighting this unfair mandate, if they think they can get rid of half of trucks overnight they’re in for a surprise.
At the meeting, many drivers testified in front of port agency executives about the unmanageable financial burdens that buying a new emissions-friendly truck would cause them.
Seattle’s port commissioner Courtney Gregoire praised the drivers’ ability to organize and display their concerns. “Please stay this organized and help push us in the right direction,” she told the drivers.
After hours of testimony on both sides, a compromise was struck between drivers and the port agency to delay enforcement of the mandate until 2019. Although the Clean Truck Mandate would technically still take effect on April 1st 2017, the compromise will allow all pre-2007 trucks to continue to operate in Seattle and Tacoma ports until January 2019, as long as drivers apply for a waiver and register their trucks on a port agency database.