Searchable Goods Movement Timeline

Welcome to the METRANS Goods Movement Timeline. This is a searchable timeline of activities tied to goods movement, logistics and international trade based upon items from the popular press.

Given our location and the importance of this region as an international trade gateway, many of the entries pertain to Southern California. We do however draw from state and national press as well. Some articles' links may have expired, or you may have to pay a fee or register on the Web site where they originally appeared to access the complete article. Our goal however is to provide the researcher with enough information to track significant events over time as they have occurred in key areas like legislation, finance, and security.

This timeline grew out of timelines initially developed for METRANS research projects in the area of goods movement. Earlier entries (before 2005) were therefore not prepared with a searchable database in mind and will be less detailed. We hope, however, that they remain a useful resource.

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May 04, 2018

Air quality board moves to regulate freight yards Air board will target freight facilities

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Southern California air quality officials voted Friday to craft rules governing warehouses, distribution centers and rail yards in a controversial bid to combat transportation emissions in the nation’s smoggiest region.

The governing board of the South Coast Air Quality Management District moved to begin devising rules to regulate freight facilities as “indirect sources” of pollution because of the truck and locomotive traffic they attract.

The approach targets cargo-moving industries that are the lifeblood of the Southern California economy but responsible for much of the most harmful, smog-forming emissions.

Diesel trucks are the greatest obstacle to clean air in the region. Though regulation has helped rein in emissions from passenger cars, truck pollution controls lag behind.

Meanwhile, increases in cargo shipments through the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach have led to a proliferation of warehouses and distribution centers across the Inland Empire — and with them, big rigs.

Communities near ports, warehouses and rail yards have for years urged such a crackdown on freight pollution, but it’s been fiercely opposed by business interests that say such rules will harm the growing logistics industry and stifle job growth in a sector that employs hundreds of thousands of people across the region.

The decision to proceed with warehouse regulation was a 7-6 vote along party lines, with six Democrats and one unaffiliated environmentalist member voting in favor of drafting rules and six Republicans voting against. The panel is made up of elected officials and appointees from a region of 17 million people across Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside and San Bernardino counties.

Republicans from the Inland Empire and Orange County warned that freight facility rules would kill blue-collar jobs and cause the logistics industry to flee Southern California. They pleaded to leave regulation of truck pollution to the federal government and decisions about warehouses to local cities and counties.

Democrats from L.A. County said the agency had an obligation to protect the public from asthma, lung cancer and other pollution-triggered health problems, or risk falling further behind in the smog fight.

A pivotal vote of support came from Los Angeles Councilman Joe Buscaino, a Democrat who represents the harbor area and is the Los Angeles mayor’s appointee to the panel. He had previously spoken against regulating warehouses but announced during Friday’s meeting that he had changed his position after discussions with Mayor Eric Garcetti.

Buscaino, whose parents emigrated from Italy to work on the waterfront, presented his decision in deeply personal terms, calling himself “a son of the Port of Los Angeles” who has seen communities benefit economically but suffer health effects from port operations, including family members diagnosed with cancer.

“It’s an economic engine,” he said. “But we need to remind ourselves that we should not choke on that engine.”

The panel voted 8 to 5 to draft rules on rail yards, with one Republican, Wildomar Mayor Ben Benoit, joining his colleagues in favor of the measure.

The board delayed action, for now, on whether to act on a staff proposal to craft similar regulations for new and redevelopment projects to try to reduce emissions from construction equipment. For the region’s ports and airports, the board supported staff recommendations to pursue voluntary measures only.

The impacts of the move will depend on the policy crafted by air district staff in coming months and what is ultimately approved by the board. Some possibilities include mandates that warehouses ensure visiting trucks are on average cleaner than what’s required under state emissions standards or install electric charging stations to help transition to zero-emission vehicles.

Environmentalists and advocacy groups from warehouse-adjacent communities celebrated the decision as a first step toward curbing diesel pollution and easing the health risks to people living and going to school nearby.

“We hope this will begin a shift toward zero emissions, toward electrification,” said Ericka Flores, senior community organizer for the Inland Empire-based Center for Community Action and Environmental Justice. “For once, this board has listened.”

Industry groups expressed disappointment, saying the board’s push toward regulation casts uncertainty over the entire supply chain.

“We will do everything we can to protect workers in California’s goods-movement industry, which supports a third of the state’s economy and jobs,” Chief Executive Shawn Yadon of the California Trucking Assn. said.

Left untouched by air district regulations is the Los Angeles-Long Beach port complex, which despite steep reductions in emissions under a voluntary plan remains the largest single source of air pollution in Southern California.

Amid signs that emissions progress was tapering off in recent years, the port last fall updated its clean-air plan to encourage phasing out diesel trucks in favor of natural gas and, ultimately, zero-emissions equipment. But the plan lacks new targets for reducing smog-forming emissions.

Steep cuts in freight industry pollution are crucial if the region is to meet federal health standards before key deadlines in 2023 and 2031, which require the region to cut emissions of smog-forming nitrogen oxides by more than half.

Last year, the AQMD board approved a 15-year smog-reduction plan that took a voluntary approach to freight facilities, asking them to come up with their own pollution-cutting measures. But it pledged to pivot to rule-making if progress wasn’t made within a year.

In California, the jurisdiction of local air districts is generally limited to stationary facilities such as oil refineries and factories, while state and federal regulators oversee vehicles and other mobile sources that generate more than 80% of emissions.

For more than a decade, the South Coast district has proposed a more envelope-pushing strategy: clamping down on freight facilities and developments using its authority under state law to regulate indirect sources of pollution. But to date, no such measures have made it past the drawing board.

In the San Joaquin Valley, air quality officials have since 2006 regulated indirect pollution from many new developments, including warehouses, retail centers and housing projects, and those measures have withstood legal challenges.

Backers of freight pollution regulation said the existence of such rules elsewhere obliges Southern California air quality officials to act under state law, which says air districts must work quickly to meet standards using “every feasible measure.” And they warned that failure to meet looming federal pollution-reduction deadlines could result in more devastating penalties under the Clean Air Act, including the loss of billions in transportation funds.

The move has taken on increased importance as the region’s progress fighting smog has faltered in recent years. After decades of improvement, bad air days for ozone, the lung-damaging gas in smog, have increased the last two years in a row.

Regulators expect little help from the Trump administration, which is in the midst of an industry-backed push to weaken air quality rules.

The California Air Resources Board this year declined to pursue statewide rules on indirect pollution from freight facilities and will instead seek other regulations targeting port trucks, cargo-handling equipment, rail yard locomotives and other freight operations.

Online Edition

Southern California air quality officials voted Friday to craft rules governing warehouses, distribution centers and rail yards in a controversial bid to combat transportation emissions in the nation’s smoggiest region.

The governing board of the South Coast Air Quality Management District moved to begin devising rules to regulate freight facilities as “indirect sources” of pollution because of the truck and locomotive traffic they attract.

Jan 25, 2018

5 of the most congested truck bottlenecks are on Southern California freeways

Online Edition

Big rigs are common on Southland freeways, thanks in part to the Los Angeles/Long Beach port complex, and a report released Thursday found that Los Angeles County is home to two of the country’s top 15 truck bottlenecks.

According to the study by the American Transportation Research Institute, seven of the nation’s 65 worst truck bottlenecks are in California.

The 60 Freeway interchange with the 57 Freeway in Diamond Bar ranked fifth on the list. The 710 Freeway at the 105 Freeway in the Paramount/Lynwood area came in at number 13.

“California not only is our nation’s most populous state, but with our farms, key ports and border crossings it is our gateway to the world’s markets, making it a key state for the trucking industry,” California Trucking Association CEO Shawn Yadon said in a statement. “Congestion costs trucking billions of dollars and harms our economy. ATRI’s report makes clear where the biggest issues lie and we urge policymakers to quickly address them with much needed investment.”

Atlanta’s “Spaghetti Junction” — the interchange of interstates 285 and 85 North — ranked as the most congested freight bottleneck in the country.

The 15 Freeway at state Route 91 in Corona ranked 45th on the list, while the 110 Freeway at the 105 Freeway came in at number 64. The 10 Freeway interchange with the 15 in San Bernardino came in 27th. Two interchanges in Oakland also placed in the top 65.

The rankings are based on GPS data from more than 800,000 heavy-duty trucks and include an assessment of truck congestion at 300 locations across the country.

Online Edition

Big rigs are common on Southland freeways, thanks in part to the Los Angeles/Long Beach port complex, and a report released Thursday found that Los Angeles County is home to two of the country’s top 15 truck bottlenecks.

According to the study by the American Transportation Research Institute, seven of the nation’s 65 worst truck bottlenecks are in California.

Feb 19, 2018

710 Freeway may dedicate a lane for electric vehicles — and charge them while they travel

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As part of a $6 billion widening of the 710 Freeway, a Metro committee is asking the transit agency to add a lane dedicated to electric vehicles — cars, buses and trucks — which would use wireless power transmission pads placed in the roadway to recharge their batteries as they travel.

While wireless charging is being used at transit yards, including in the Antelope Valley to power electric buses, the notion of a freeway lane embedded with devices that continuously recharge a moving vehicle’s battery pack would be a first in the United States.

“I think the technology exists or is about to exist, so we can have both long-haul trucks as well as cars be zero-emission,” Janice Hahn, county supervisor and board member for the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority said Monday. “I believe the market will respond to Metro creating that policy.”

Hahn noted in a written statement that these so-called “rechargeable roadways” are under construction today in China, Israel and Norway. By the time the 19-mile, 710 Freeway improvement project, stretching from Long Beach to the 60 Freeway in East Los Angeles, is complete in 2040, such technology will be commonplace, Hahn said.

“It doesn’t make sense to invest $6 billion in widening the 710 Freeway without demanding we have a zero-emissions requirement to drive in these new lanes,” she said in an interview.

Daimler AG and Tesla have built long-haul electric trucks, as has the Playa Vista company Chanje. Hahn said Monday she plans to set up a meeting with Tesla CEO Elon Musk “to see if this piques his interest,” adding: “If not a rechargeable lane, then we can find out what else is out there.”

It has taken 15 years of study and community meetings for Metro to consider a specific project design. Last week, Hahn amended what is known as “staff project design 5C,” which basically adds a lane in each direction and provides truck bypass lanes at the 405 Freeway juncture.

The changes bolster the clean-air components, requiring Metro to not just improve traffic flow but address the detrimental health impacts on nearby residents from diesel pollution spewed from trucks leaving the Port of Long Beach.

“I am very familiar with this ‘diesel death zone‘ that has characterized this freight corridor,” she said, referring to higher risks of lung disease and cancer from diesel tailpipe exhaust and fine particulates from truck tires and brake pad residue affecting such communities as Wilmington, San Pedro, Long Beach, Bell Gardens, Bell, Maywood, Cudahy, Compton, Paramount and East Los Angeles

“Our community should no longer suffer health risks so somebody in Kansas can get a flat screen TV,” she said.

Hahn’s motion received full support of the five-member Metro’s Ad Hoc Congestion, Highway and Roads Committee, which she chairs. The motion comes before the full, 13-member Metro board on March 1.

The committee did not support a different approach, labeled “Alternative 7,” which would separate trucks from cars on an elevated, truck-only roadway. This design costs almost twice as much as the design the committee endorsed, or about $10 billion, said Metro. So far, Metro has about $1.09 billion for the project.

In addition to a dedicated recharging lane, the committee wants:

An increase from $100 million to $200 million spent on developing the electric roadway technology, along with incentivizing trucking companies to ditch diesel trucks and buy electric trucks or other forms of zero-emission vehicles.

To convene a working group for developing more zero-emission trucks and also rechargeable freeway lanes with the California Air Resources Board, the South Coast Air Quality Management District, the California Transportation Commission, the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach and others.

Online Edition

As part of a $6 billion widening of the 710 Freeway, a Metro committee is asking the transit agency to add a lane dedicated to electric vehicles — cars, buses and trucks — which would use wireless power transmission pads placed in the roadway to recharge their batteries as they travel.

May 24, 2018

As union asks Long Beach leaders for action on truckers’ compensation, some drivers demand a choice

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Contractors? Or employees?

The Long Beach City Council Harbor and Tidelands Committee began to tackle the issue of how the massive twin ports’ big-rig drivers should be classified at the first of two hearings Thursday afternoon.

It’s not clear what role the city can play in the debate, but officials are staging the hearings to investigate the issue.

Both Long Beach and Los Angeles ports have worked to find policy solutions to address allegations that some companies improperly employ port truck drivers as independent contractors, denying them overtime and benefits, when critics and union leaders say they should considered hourly employees. In February, leaders agreed to hold hearings on the matter.

For years, some drivers and their unions have complained about not receiving the benefits of employment. Some say they end up owing their companies money for equipment fees despite long work weeks.

The California Labor Commissioner has received hundreds of complaints regarding the issue and has awarded more than $35 million in back wages and penalties.

But as some port truck drivers told council members about extremely low or even negative paychecks, some independent owner-operator drivers said such conversations made them wary. They want such an arrangement to be a choice, they contend.

These independent drivers have it good, they said — they make a good salary, run their own businesses and take care of their own insurance, retirement and trucks. And they’re worried that the push to make companies classify all drivers as employees will actually hurt them.

“Becoming an employee has to be a choice,” George Javarra, an owner-operator, said. “I’m trying to build a business here.”

Javarra held his paycheck in the air. While he did not say exactly how much it was, he indicated it was not a small check. His thoughts were echoed by other speakers who are owner-operators — one of whom said he takes home about $160,000 annually. Drivers who are not getting paid well should simply go to a better company, he said.

But on the other side of the room sat a group of drivers from the Teamsters union clad in neon-colored vests. They said they wanted drivers to have a choice of being their own bosses or being an employee. When it isn’t a choice, it equates to theft, they said.

“Not all companies are good,” said Randall Williams, who said he was not an owner-operator.

Councilwoman Jeanine Pearce said that the issue isn’t if drivers want the choice or not, it’s that California law states that “if it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it’s a duck” when it comes to driver-company relations.

In other words, if a company is treating a driver like an employee, they should be given appropriate employee benefits.

The next hearing on the subject will be Thursday, May 31 at 3 p.m. at the Port of Long Beach Maintenance Building Meeting Room, 725 Harbor Plaza.

Online Edition

Contractors? Or employees?

The Long Beach City Council Harbor and Tidelands Committee began to tackle the issue of how the massive twin ports’ big-rig drivers should be classified at the first of two hearings Thursday afternoon.

It’s not clear what role the city can play in the debate, but officials are staging the hearings to investigate the issue.

Dec 26, 2017

Cargo checks at border just got quicker

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Pilot plan lets U.S., Mexican officials do joint inspections to cut truckers’ wait time at San Diego crossing.

SAN DIEGO — In a move expected to dramatically reduce wait times for hundreds of trucks that each day move goods from Tijuana to San Diego, Mexican customs officials are working side by side with their U.S. counterparts at the Otay Mesa Port of Entry.

Under a pilot program formally launched Friday, U.S. and Mexican officials operate out of adjacent booths at the busy U.S. port, working separately but simultaneously as they carry out inspections on products crossing into the United States — everything from tomatoes to televisions.

Known as Unified Cargo Processing, the program has proved successful at other ports of entry on the U.S.-Mexico border, including Nogales, Douglas and San Luis in Arizona and Calexico, Calif., across from the Baja California capital, Mexicali. Wait times have plunged by as much as 85% for qualifying shippers.

Otay Mesa is the second-busiest U.S. commercial port of entry on the Mexican border, with an average of more than 3,500 truck crossings a day, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

The process of entering San Diego can stretch to five or six hours if the truck is pulled over twice for inspection — first as it leaves Mexico and again as it enters the United States.

Early Friday afternoon, a line of trucks streamed steadily from Tijuana into the Otay Mesa Port of Entry.

In one lane, drivers leaned through their windows to hand paperwork to Michael Horn, a U.S. Customs and Border Protection officer.

Horn immediately shared some of the documents with Rosa Maria Barrientos, an official with Mexico’s Tax Administration Service, who worked in a separate booth.

Within minutes, a truck was cleared to continue to the United States.

Had either officer questioned a shipment, the truck would have been pulled over for an inspection conducted jointly by U.S. and Mexican officials.

The duo inspections involve only about a third of the northbound truck traffic, limited to shippers who are enrolled in a trusted traveler program known as the Customs Trade Partnership Against Terrorism.

Companies in Tijuana’s booming manufacturing industry are expected to benefit from these inspections as they export products such as televisions, audio speakers, prosthetics and pacemakers to the United States.

Toyota, which operates a Tacoma pickup manufacturing plant in Tijuana, is among the main potential beneficiaries.

U.S. customs officials have said they expect the program to cut inspection times in half.

The new system underscores the collaboration between the U.S. and Mexican agencies.

“We’re building upon the structures and procedures that are already in place,” said Larry Fanning, assistant port director for trade at the Otay Mesa Port of Entry.

The joint inspections began more than two years ago after the U.S. and Mexico launched a pilot pre-inspection program at a facility in Tijuana to inspect agricultural goods crossing into San Diego.

The efforts are seen as a way to increase efficiency even as the U.S. and Mexican governments have struggled with limited funding to expand ports of entry and build new ones.

Meanwhile, this is a time of uncertainty over the future of commercial relations between the countries as the North American Free Trade Agreement is being renegotiated.

“We are not waiting to see what happens,” said Luis Hernandez, president of the Tijuana Maquiladora Assn. “We are moving forward.”

Online Edition

Pilot plan lets U.S., Mexican officials do joint inspections to cut truckers’ wait time at San Diego crossing.

SAN DIEGO — In a move expected to dramatically reduce wait times for hundreds of trucks that each day move goods from Tijuana to San Diego, Mexican customs officials are working side by side with their U.S. counterparts at the Otay Mesa Port of Entry.

Mar 19, 2018

City Council to weigh environmental impacts of Port of Long Beach’s rail expansion project

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City Council Chambers will soon be center stage for a David-and-Goliath battle – between a loose coalition of small businesses and Long Beach’s economic powerhouse.

A study on how a proposed rail yard expansion by the Port of Long Beach will affect the environment will go before the City Council on Tuesday – with port officials arguing the more than half-billion-dollar project is crucial to improving air quality and opponents saying it will hurt nearby companies.

The Board of Harbor Commissioners approved the Environmental Impact Report in January, but two businesses just outside the project’s proposed path filed separate appeals to the council, challenging the report’s breadth and accuracy.

The council appeal is the last major hurdle before the port can begin buying up properties that sit in the way of the rail yard expansion.

“We think the council will find the EIR (Environmental Impact Report) was done properly,” said port spokesman Lee Peterson. “It will hold up to the appeal.”

But, opponents said, the consequences of the project could be greater than the report suggested.

“With all those diesel trains going through,” said Stan Janocha, chief operating officer of appellant Superior Electrical Advertising, “how could it not cause major pollution?”

The expansion, on 171 acres of land in the harbor area, is slated to begin in 2020, will create 1,100 construction jobs, and will increase the number of tracks at the Pier B rail facility from 12 to 48 tracks.

But in doing so, it would require the port to acquire 39 parcels of land, forcing the closure or relocation of long-time businesses located in the project zone. And Ninth Street east of the Los Angeles River would close permanently.

Port officials say the expansion is a crucial part of its continuing effort to reduce emissions and traffic congestion around the port.

Once finished, the rail yard – the only one that connects to the docks – will provide extra storage for empty rail cars, be able to accommodate trains up to 10,000 feet long and “allow for more efficient rail operations,” according to a city staff report.

The expanded rail yard would also reduce the number of trucks needed to transport the steel shipping containers from the docks: one train can carry about 250 containers, as opposed to the one-to-one ratio for trucks, Peterson said.

The port is trying to increase the percentage of containers carried via on-dock rail to 30 to 35 percent by 2030, Peterson said. Currently, according to city documents, 24 percent of cargo is shipped by rail and the rest by truck.

“Pier B is a really importance piece,” Peterson said. “It’s absolutely necessary for achieving that goal.”

But first, the port must prove this project – estimated to cost $540 to $820 million – will not significantly damage the environment. Any major project must undergo an environmental study and, under state law, be approved during a public hearing by whatever board oversees it.

The report analyzed how the project, during and after construction, would affect seismic conditions, water quality, ground transportation and noise.

The Environmental Impact Report, which underwent a 90-day public review before its approval by the Harbor Commission, found two areas that would be significantly impacted: air quality and global climate change.

The air emissions created by the project would, at times, create more pollution than allowed by regional regulations.

“It’d be rare,” Peterson said.

But not everyone agrees.

Phillips Steel Company and Superior Electrical Advertising, both on Anaheim Street, have filed appeals against the Environmental Impact Report. The owners of both companies are expected to speak at Tuesday’s meeting. Representatives of WestPac, a coalition of businesses in the harbor area, will also speak.

Phillips and Superior are not in the path of the project, but both argue in their respective appeals that expanding the rail yard would hurt their businesses.

They argue that the air pollution would affect the health of their employees. They also say dust and noise from the trains would hamper production and meetings with customers, and the closure of Ninth Street would make it exceedingly difficult for customers, employees and emergency personnel to get to their businesses.

“We want to stay here,” said Janocha, the COO of Superior, which makes signs for companies such as Starbucks and Disney. “But we’ll have to move out of Long Beach or shut down.”

Superior has been in business for more than 50 years and employs 125 people. Besides a 50,000 square-foot warehouse, where it constructs its signs, the company has a 50,000 square-foot yard used for storing signs that are ready to be shipped out, trucks, and large recycling containers.

The back of the yard is about half a football field from where the expanded tracks would begin.

Superior often shows clients the signs before they are finished. But with the rail yard so close, it would be difficult to bring in customers, or pitch prospective clients because of the noise, Janocha said last week.

The dust would make the new signs look dirty before they were even shipped to customers, Janocha added during a tour of his facility, as strong winds whipped around the yard.

“Tracks also cause blight,” Janocha said.

Janocha said he has looked around Long Beach for other properties that could accommodate Superior’s work, but there weren’t any large enough.

They’d have to move to elsewhere, perhaps the Inland Empire – an unreasonable burden to the 43 employees who live in Long Beach.

“Many of them take public transportation,” Janocha said. “How would they get to work?”

Peterson said Port officials have been in talks with Janocha and other business owners to mitigate any effects, which he said shouldn’t be many.

“We wouldn’t want closures to happen,” he said. “We don’t see the rail yard being anything less than a good neighbor.”

Janocha said he understands persuading the council to uphold Superior’s and Phillips’ appeals is an uphill battle. Janocha reached out to every councilmember, but only heard from Lena Gonzalez, who represents the area where the project is being built.

Gonzalez did not return requests for comment.

Janocha has discussed options with his lawyer, should the appeals get denied. But he declined to discuss those options.

“It’s David versus Goliath,” Janocha said.

Online Edition

City Council Chambers will soon be center stage for a David-and-Goliath battle – between a loose coalition of small businesses and Long Beach’s economic powerhouse.

A study on how a proposed rail yard expansion by the Port of Long Beach will affect the environment will go before the City Council on Tuesday – with port officials arguing the more than half-billion-dollar project is crucial to improving air quality and opponents saying it will hurt nearby companies.

Oct 31, 2017

Cleaner air doesn’t have to risk jobs at our local ports

Online Edition

California leads the world in progressive environmental policies aimed at lowering carbon emissions. Who is more environmentally friendly than California? But another area where California is a leader is in unemployment; it ranks in the top-10 for highest unemployment rate in the nation (tied for seventh place). To bring it home, the Los Angeles metropolitan area unemployment rate is at 5.1 percent and the national average is 4.2 percent.

It is in this abysmal economic setting that, on Nov. 2, the Los Angeles and Long Beach ports will jointly be voting on the final draft of the San Pedro Bay Ports Clean Air Action Plan proposal set by the mayors and ports of both cities to further reduce air emissions. On the surface the plan’s aggressive goal sounds like a good idea: make the Southland a cleaner, more comfortable place in which to live. The problem is that these regulations, in their current proposal, go way too far and will not achieve the desired outcome.

Los Angeles boasts of being America’s No. 1 port, and Long Beach isn’t that far behind, but it’s a title that won’t last long. While the ports have seen steady growth in the last 10 years, when you compare them to other ports, they fail miserably. Many of the other ports have seen 20 percent to 150 percent more growth than our own San Pedro Bay Ports. For the most part, our growth has been stagnant, and with increasing competitiveness across the country and across the globe, we cannot implement more regulations that kill jobs and industry for our region. The Los Angeles region and the state are losing out to more competitive states and countries.

Since the 2006 CAAP plan was enacted, we have seen a 96 percent drop in diesel particulate matter from cargo equipment and heavy duty trucks — which is no small feat. Thanks to the original CAAP, we saw a drastic reduction in emissions, but these cuts didn’t come without major consequences, and the new plan will cut even deeper. In order to reduce the last 4 percent of emissions of the 96 percent reduction we have already seen, the CAAP estimates that it will cost $14 billion — and to make matters worse, it assumes that the port will be using technology that does not yet exist.

While we in the Southland should always support innovation and continue to back worthy pursuits like investment in technology that makes our air cleaner, Los Angeles cannot afford the hefty price we’d have to pay to achieve the milestones of the CAAP, as currently proposed. The Los Angeles and Long Beach ports should adopt the following two guidelines:

First, a competitiveness action plan. It is essential that our ports remain competitive with shippers for our economy. The ports should do a cost effectiveness study to make sure that not only will we reach our goals, but they are economically feasible. Having clean air and competitive ports are not mutually exclusive — in fact they go hand in hand to ensure good jobs, low prices and clean air for us all.

Secondly, a cost effectiveness study. The “Economic and Workforce Considerations for the Clean Air Action Plan Update” estimates it will be three to five times more expensive for the industry to implement this plan than previous efforts. Specifically, the CAAP estimates it will cost up to $14 billion and seeks to implement some zero-emission equipment that is still in development. The port should evaluate the incremental cost effectiveness in dollar/ton of emissions removed between near zero and zero emission technologies and include the replacement costs to meet requirements vs. life cycle for technologies. The ports should also coordinate with the South Coast Air Quality Management District to ensure that both public and private financial investments are prioritized in a manner that will achieve the most emission-reduction benefits for the South Coast Basin.

If the Los Angeles and Long Beach ports simply make these amendments to the plan, Angelenos won’t have to pay for clean air at the expense of families missing rent. We want the Los Angeles and Long Beach ports to become the model for innovation, not the model for recession. The voting members need to seriously consider the 900,000 bread-winners’ jobs here in Southern California and do the right thing by amending the current CAAP proposal. The Southland can be both an economic powerhouse as well as an environmental leader in emission reductions and sustainability.

Online Edition

California leads the world in progressive environmental policies aimed at lowering carbon emissions. Who is more environmentally friendly than California? But another area where California is a leader is in unemployment; it ranks in the top-10 for highest unemployment rate in the nation (tied for seventh place). To bring it home, the Los Angeles metropolitan area unemployment rate is at 5.1 percent and the national average is 4.2 percent.

Jan 11, 2018

Company at Port of Long Beach ordered to pay $2.5 million for pollution near neighborhoods

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The California Air Resources Board announced this week it reached a $2.5 million settlement with SSA Containers Inc. and its affiliates, which the state agency said failed to repower, retire or retrofit its equipment at the ports of Long Beach and Oakland.

The company also failed to certify large spark ignition engines on yard trucks servicing those terminals, as required by state law, according to CARB.

“This settlement is part of a dynamic, focused effort to protect the health of people who live and work near ports from the harmful effects of diesel exhaust,” CARB Executive Officer Richard Corey said. “We are glad that these worthy projects will benefit from the settlement monies but are working diligently toward the day when California’s air is so clean that they will no longer be necessary.”

SSA did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

According to CARB, SSA and its affiliates will pay $1.25 million to the Air Pollution Control Fund for pollution research, $728,060 to the South Coast Air Quality Management District to fund air filtration systems in schools located near ports, and $521,940 to the Prescott-Joseph Center for Community Enhancement to fund the Northern California Breathmobile, which travels to disadvantaged communities in the Bay Area to meet health care needs of children with asthma.

CARB officials said SSA Containers and its affiliates fully cooperated during the investigation, and as part of the settlement, replaced all uncertified engines operating at its facilities to reach compliance with the state agency’s Cargo Handling Equipment and Large Spark Ignition Engine Regulations.

Online Edition

The California Air Resources Board announced this week it reached a $2.5 million settlement with SSA Containers Inc. and its affiliates, which the state agency said failed to repower, retire or retrofit its equipment at the ports of Long Beach and Oakland.

The company also failed to certify large spark ignition engines on yard trucks servicing those terminals, as required by state law, according to CARB.

Aug 01, 2018

End of Uber autonomous truck effort shows capacity relief still ways off

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Uber, for a time the public face of autonomous trucking, is halting, at least for now, its efforts to produce a self-driving truck. The company will focus instead on self-driving cars. The change in strategy, first reported Monday by online news site Tech Crunch, was revealed in an email from Eric Meyhofer, head of Uber Advanced Technologies Group, to Uber ATG employees.

“We’ve decided to stop development on our self-driving truck program and move forward exclusively with cars,” he said in a separate statement. “We recently took the important step of returning to public roads in Pittsburgh, and as we look to continue that momentum, we believe having our entire team’s energy and expertise focused on this effort is the best path forward.”

The immediate shipper impact of Uber’s decision is this: it does not end trucking’s autonomous dreams, but shippers should not expect “driverless” trucks to solve the US truck capacity problem anytime soon.

With digital brokerage Uber Freight expanding, the company decided it does not need to immediately develop autonomous trucks to remain competitive in the US freight market. The decision underscores not inconsiderable differences between passenger and commercial vehicle markets when it comes to developing and deploying autonomous technologies.

Uber has spent a lot of money, or stock, on autonomous trucks, starting with its acquisition of Otto, an autonomous truck developer founded by former Waymo and Google executives, for equity in 2016. Earlier this year, Waymo dropped a lawsuit against Uber claiming one of those executives, Anthony Levandowski, had stolen trade secrets for $245 million in Uber equity.

The strategic shift, however, reflects the importance of autonomous cars to Uber’s core ridesharing business. The company said it will “pivot” employees currently working on autonomous trucks to support the self-driving car business, offering relocation or separation packages to those currently working at its autonomous truck design and testing facilities.

Meyhofer referred to the resumption of tests of autonomous cars in Pittsburgh, which had been suspended in March after an autonomous car with a test driver was involved in a fatal accident in Tempe, Arizona. Meyhofer last week announced new safety standards for Uber’s car tests. The cars will operate in “manual” mode, with two “mission specialists” assigned to each car.

As noted, Uber’s decision to shift gears doesn’t end trucking’s autonomous dreams. Plenty of companies are pursuing driver-assisted or driverless commercial vehicles, including Embark, Waymo, TuSimple, Tesla, Starsky Robotics, and traditional truck manufacturers such as Daimler. There also are several levels of autonomy and different operating models for the trucks.

However, if any shippers expected “driverless” trucks to solve trucking’s driver shortage problem anytime soon, Uber’s withdrawal from the market should give them pause.

Competing visions of how autonomous trucking will hit the road divide the technology community, with some focusing on developing long-haul, irregular-route, over-the-road business models, with others pursuing more “closed loop” operations based on defined routes and even short-haul or site-specific applications. Think yard trucks shuttling containers or trailers.

As recently as March, Uber envisioned a future where more truck drivers will be engaged in short-haul relays between pickup and destination points and transfer hubs located along highways. In its most recent test, short-haul drivers in California hauled trailers to the Arizona border, where they exchanged them with drivers of autonomous trucks.

Those autonomous trucks (which also had a driver in the cab) then took that freight, theoretically, for the long haul, with another transfer hub and short-haul driver waiting on the other end of the trip. The experiment blended the autonomous technology developed by Uber ATG with the brokerage and technology platform developed for Uber Freight.

The long-haul model for autonomous trucking built around transfer hubs harkens back to less-than-truckload hub-and-spoke linehaul networks and even the original freight depot and horse wagon model pioneered by railroads in the 19th century. Embark, which recently received $30 million in funding, also sees the long haul as the target market for autonomous trucks.

In a partnership with Ryder System and Electrolux, Embark is testing autonomous tractor-trailers on a 650-mile route, delivering Frigidaire refrigerators. Ryder’s trucks and drivers ferries freight from distribution centers to transfer points near Interstates, and Embark’s autonomous trucks — each with an actual driver — then take the load on the long run.

Like its competitors, Waymo has been testing autonomous trucks in California and Arizona, and in March launched an autonomous truck pilot with shippers and carriers in the Atlanta area, “integrating with their network of factories, distribution centers, ports and terminals,” the company said. Those “driverless” trucks are all manned by truck drivers who monitor systems.

TuSimple, a US-Chinese joint venture, is working on a different operating model, one focused more on running highly autonomous vehicles over defined, regular routes. “We will map a route, and typically we’re going to map highways, near-highway surface streets, and distribution centers and closed environments,” said Chuck Price, TuSimple vice president of product.

For example, TuSimple plans to test autonomous trucks at seaports in China this year. “We’re going to automate all the way to the dock,” Price said. “We have developed basically a spotter vehicle, a hostler, with Shaanxi Auto Group. It’s a modified day cab, a little bigger than the typical hostler. It’s a vehicle that can work in ports with other automated equipment.”

In the United States, TuSimple is building its own freight-hauling fleet to test its technology in Arizona. The company is partnering with PACCAR subsidiary Peterbilt and visual computing technology firm NVIDIA to develop a high-level autonomous control based on high-definition cameras, radar, and computers, rather than Lidar, the laser-based scanning technology used by Uber and others.

Price sees parcel services as well as motor carriers as potential customers. “Certainly anybody who is regularly moving truckloads of goods on a regular run,” he said. Drayage is a strong possibility, as well as intra-facility movements, not just ports but rail intermodal facilities,” he said. Trucks in those facilities won’t have to interact much, if at all, with the public.

There are as many potential routes for autonomous trucking, it would seem, as there are start-up companies in Silicon Valley. Uber’s withdrawal from the market — and the company isn’t saying “no, nay, never” to an eventual return — probably has more to do with the company’s larger corporate goals than the viability of autonomous trucking or truck technology.

The faster route may well be the shortest one. The challenge of setting up “closed loop” routes within or near ports, railyards, or distribution centers scales much differently than that of cross-country autonomous trucking. The motor truck, in fact, first replaced the horse truck in very local distribution before better roads and highways led to intercity and interstate trucking.

The next few years will prove whether or how transportation history repeats itself.

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Uber, for a time the public face of autonomous trucking, is halting, at least for now, its efforts to produce a self-driving truck. The company will focus instead on self-driving cars. The change in strategy, first reported Monday by online news site Tech Crunch, was revealed in an email from Eric Meyhofer, head of Uber Advanced Technologies Group, to Uber ATG employees.

Oct 30, 2017

House reps: Shore up security funding at LA, Long Beach ports

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At a rare on-site hearing of the House Homeland Security Committee at the Port of L.A., members of the panel and other Southern California representatives sounded generally pleased with what they heard. Officials from the two local ports, the Coast Guard, Customs and Border Protection and the longshore union testified about what has been done to protect the facilities in the wake of two security scares earlier this year.

But the testimony also seemed to strengthen most of the House members’ determination to push for more funding for port security. The Trump administration’s initial budget proposal last spring threatened to trim port security funding. Democrats oppose shifting budget priorities toward the Mexican border wall proposed by President Trump.

“The people we talked to today are getting it right, but more training and resources are needed,” said Rep. Bennie Thompson of Mississippi, the committee’s ranking Democrat.

The border wall was mentioned only once — by Thompson — in the more than 90-minute hearing, perhaps because there is no direct tradeoff between funding for the wall and port security measures.

But Rep. Nanette Barragan, D-Carson, whose district includes the Port of L.A., said the issue of the wall looms over the matter of port security.

“These are conflicting interests,” Barragan said in an interview after the hearing. “We can’t put money toward the border wall without taking it away from something else.

“I believe that [the wall] would be a waste of money, and we should put more priority into airport and seaport security.”

The call for more federal funding for port security wasn’t unanimous, though.

Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, R-Huntington Beach, whose district used to include the Port of Long Beach area, said stepped-up port security should be paid for not by the government but by the companies that profit from safer seaborne commerce. Rohrabacher also said government “overreach” could get in the way more than it protects the maritime industry.

The hearing in San Pedro came at the urging of Barragan, who said the visit was important to raise awareness of port security issues — even among members of the Homeland Security Committee, not all of whom had heard of a security breach that made headlines in August.

This was the incident in which a man in a stolen vehicle being pursued by police blew past security gates at the Port of L.A., climbed a 120-foot crane and stripped off his clothes before falling or jumping to his death.

The second scare that promoted Monday’s hearing was the June cyberattack against the Danish shipping giant A.P. Moller-Maersk that forced the Port of L.A.’s largest terminal to close for three days.

Eugene Seroka, executive director of the Port of L.A., said the port has fortified gate security and changed cargo-entry paths since the crane incident.

Seroka told the panel the Maersk cyberattack was “a call to action for all of us.” Noting that the port had been the first, back in 2014, to have its own cybersecurity complex, Seroka said more could be done to monitor internet activities affecting the entirety of the nation’s busiest container port.

“This was not a direct attack on the Port of L.A. — but the next time it could be,” committee chairman Michael McCaul, R-Texas, told Seroka, who agreed.

Officials called attention to old and new threats.

Rear Admiral Todd A. Sokalzuk, commander of the Eleventh Coast Guard District, noted the problem of aging cutters.

Mario Cordero, executive director of the Long Beach Port, called for restrictions on unmanned aerial vehicles —  drones —  in port areas. Carlos Martel, director of L.A. field operations for Customs and Border Protection, said the possibility of explosives on private pleasure craft remains a hard-to-monitor threat.

Barragan asked if CBP staffing was sufficient.

No, said Ray Familathe, vice president of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, contending that having security scans unavailable on weekends leaves workers unable to process cargo.

Online Edition

At a rare on-site hearing of the House Homeland Security Committee at the Port of L.A., members of the panel and other Southern California representatives sounded generally pleased with what they heard. Officials from the two local ports, the Coast Guard, Customs and Border Protection and the longshore union testified about what has been done to protect the facilities in the wake of two security scares earlier this year.