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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Nov 07, 2017

San Pedro Bay Ports' Clean Air Action Plan Gets Green Light

Print Edition

The ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles have yet again teamed up to advance cleaner air in the region. On November 2, their governing boards passed a new Clean Air Action Plan (CAAP), a document outlining the most ambitious goals for cleaning up the air at the ports yet.

The plan aims to build upon the successes of its previous iteration, passed in 2006, which required trucking companies to upgrade their vehicles to cleaner running engines and mandated that shipping lines institute certain measures to reduce emissions, among other air quality improvement strategies.

The goals outlined in the CAAP were in part the result of a directive by the mayors of Long Beach and Los Angeles for the ports to create a path to zero emissions operations.

In an e-mail to constituents, Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia called the CAAP “the most progressive clean air plan in the nation to fight climate change and boost the green economy.” He said that both ports will work with terminals to move toward zero emissions and “support good jobs.”

In a joint statement from the ports, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti reflected, “This update to the Clean Air Action Plan is an important step toward our ambitious goal of zero-emissions landside goods movement by 2035, and I look forward to making even more progress with our partners in the months and years to come.”

The CAAP document indicates that it could cost between $7 billion to $14 billion to implement its goals. According to a statement released by the ports, major goals within the CAAP include the following:

• By 2020, requiring terminal operators to purchase zero-emission equipment or the cleanest equipment available when purchasing cargo handling equipment. The end goal is to transition terminals to zero-emissions operations by 2030.

• Transitioning to a zero-emission drayage trucking fleet by 2035, and creating rate structures and incentives to encourage turnover to near-zero emission truck technologies in the interim.

• Creating universal truck appointment systems at terminals and identifying other programs to both reduce emissions and improve the flow of goods.

• Creating infrastructure plans that support electrification and use of alternative fuels and other energies for terminal operations.

• Expanding on-dock rail infrastructure with the goal of moving half of all port cargo by rail.

• Reducing greenhouse gas emissions to 40% below 1990 levels by 2030, and 80% below 1990 levels by 2050.

• By 2023, reducing emissions of diesel particulate matter to 77%, nitrogen oxides by 59% and sulfur oxides by 93%, compared to 2005 levels.

Coordinated strategies for achieving these goals fall within the categories of clean vehicles; equipment and fuels; infrastructure investment and planning; supply chain efficiencies; and energy resource planning.

The document directs that an advisory group of public sector and industry stakeholders be formed to develop specific strategies for achieving its goals.

Industry reactions to the plan’s approval were mixed. In an official statement, John McLaurin, president of the Pacific Merchant Shipping Association (PMSA), said that both ports and their boards “listened to, and in some cases, addressed” his organization’s concerns. The PMSA represents terminal operators and shipping lines.

McLaurin said progress had been made in key areas, including a provision that the ports would regularly assess the rate of development of new, cleaner technologies rather than mandating the use of technologies that are not available. “Our concerns remain about the CAAP’s $14 billion cost and its potential negative impacts on port competitiveness and the one in nine jobs in the Southern California region that are reliant on the ports,” McLaurin stated.

“As the CAAP is implemented, it will take open, honest and collaborative dialogue by all parties to address the feasibility of zero-emission cargo-handling equipment and to examine the ports’ ability to compete with other North American trade gateways.”

Alex Cherin, chair of the California Trucking Association Intermodal Conference, provided the following statement to the Business Journal: “The California Trucking Association wants to thank the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach for engaging its membership throughout the drafting and implementation of the Clean Air Action Plan. We believe that the final CAAP strikes a meaningful balance between the environmental goals we all share with the operational realities we face daily in transporting the nation's cargo.”

Cherin added that the association applauded the ports’ efforts to recognize the important role the trucking industry has played in meeting and exceeding environment policies. “We particularly thank the ports for the focus they have placed in the CAAP on improving the operational environment facing drayage including the need for a reasonable visit time at our terminals,” he said.

Via its initiative “Justice For Port Truck Drivers,” the International Brotherhood of Teamsters released a statement expressing support for cleaner air but concern that the cost burden may fall on truck drivers.

“The ports unanimously approved the plan without resolving the systemic exploitation of port truck drivers that has compelled drivers to actively engage in collective action at the courts, in their truck yards, and at the ports – including 15 strikes in the last four years,” the Teamsters’ statement read.

The statement also said that truck drivers have consistently stated that the CAAP “will severely exacerbate” their exploitation by their employers, as detailed in a recent USA Today investigative report.

Greg Roche, vice president at Clean Energy Fuels and a member of the California Natural Gas Vehicle Coalition, told the Business Journal via e-mail that he had hoped to see more aggressive goals in the CAAP. “Our industry advocated for immediate actions to deploy clean trucks because the technology is available and there are urgent needs to fight climate change and air pollution. We commend the commissioners for listening and advancing the start date to 2020. Certainly, we would like to have seen an earlier start date but, regardless, we will work tirelessly with the ports, Air Quality Management District, and Air Resources Board to deploy near-zero RNG [renewable natural gas] trucks as quickly as possible,” he stated.

Print Edition

The ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles have yet again teamed up to advance cleaner air in the region. On November 2, their governing boards passed a new Clean Air Action Plan (CAAP), a document outlining the most ambitious goals for cleaning up the air at the ports yet.

Nov 16, 2017

Some swoon, others dismissive as Elon Musk unveils new electric big-rig

Online Edition

A day after Tesla CEO Elon Musk unveiled a $250,000 Roadster billed as the fastest car ever on the market and a futuristic, zero-emissions big rig at Hawthorne airport, Wal-Mart signed up for at least 15 of the trucks.

But others weren’t as impressed.

Critics rushed Friday to point out the company’s pattern of missing its own delivery deadlines, and Musk’s penchant for hyperbole and theatrical presentations. (For example, he said the electric big rig, simply named Semi, “will blow your mind clear out of your skull and into an alternate dimension.”)

“Elon’s showmanship remains intact, even as his customers’ patience for Model 3 delivery wanes,” Karl Brauer, executive publisher of Kelley Blue Book and Autotrader, said of Tesla’s entry-level sedan now in production.

“The specs on the new semi truck and sports car would put both vehicles at the top of their segments — assuming they can be produced and sold as part of a sustainable business plan. So far that final element has eluded Tesla Motors, which makes it difficult to see these vehicles as more than ‘what if’ concept cars.”

One thing is clear: Customer deposits on the new vehicles will blunt the company’s ongoing losses.

During Tesla’s most recent earnings report, Musk acknowledged that production of Tesla’s low-cost Model 3 had been delayed three months, and that the company had suffered a $619 million quarterly loss. The Model S sedan and Model X SUV also were plagued by delays.

What’s more, Tesla is fighting three lawsuits brought by former workers who allege the company allowed racist behavior at work.

Nonetheless, there was no uncertainty in Musk’s carefully produced presentation Thursday night, adjacent to the Hawthorne Municipal Airport runway at the site of aviation pioneer Jack Northrop’s former headquarters.

The fully electric trucks “are designed like a bullet,” Musk said. They can go zero to 60 in five seconds (or 20 seconds if fully loaded), climb a steep hill at 65 mph, and carefully pull off the road to call for help if the driver’s hands leave the wheel, he said.

The driver’s seat is in the center like a race car, and there are two touch-screen displays.

“It’s not like any truck that you’ve ever driven,” said Musk, wearing dark jeans, a black T-shirt and olive-colored jacket. “We are guaranteeing this truck will not break down for a million miles because it has four independent motors. Even if you only have two motors active, it’ll still beat a diesel trucks.”

Musk’s announcements, livestreamed on Tesla’s website, were greeted with enthusiastic cheers and applause. At one point, a  man shouted “Elon for president” while the billionaire entrepreneur and SpaceX founder spoke.

“That’s the most miserable job,” Musk replied.

The truck can go 500 miles on a single charge, or nearly twice as far as other zero-emissions heavy-duty trucks. And it rides as smooth as a Model S sedan, with a low center of gravity and a drag coefficient of .36, he said.

The brake pads regenerate and never need to be replaced, there’s no transmission to maintain, and the windshield won’t ever crack because it’s made of “thermo-nuclear explosion-proof glass,” Musk said, adding: “It survives a nuclear explosion or you get a full refund.”

The Semi’s cost? He didn’t disclose a sticker price.

“A diesel truck would be 20 percent more expensive than a Tesla semi per mile,” Musk said. “From Day One, a Tesla Semi will beat a diesel truck. We’re guaranteeing a 7 cent kilowatt wholesale price.”

The truck also “beats rail” in its efficiency and affordability, he said.

Orders are now being taken with $5,000 deposits, though production won’t begin for two years.

Production on the $250,000 four-door, convertible Roadster will begin in 2020. It’s the fastest production car ever made, he said, reaching 60 mph in less than 2 seconds.

It can travel up to 620 miles, or nearly round-trip from Los Angeles to San Francisco, on one charge, and reach speeds beyond 250 mph.

“The point of doing this is to just give a hardcore smack-down to gasoline cars,” Musk said. “Driving a gasoline sports-car is going to feel like a steam engine with a side of quiche.”

Kelley Blue Book analyst Rebecca Lindland described the Roadster as “fabulous” and Musk’s ambition “admirable.”

“But,” Lindland said, “as a Model 3 depositor looking at an 18-month wait, I do wish he was a little bit further along in the delivery process before embarking on yet another new vehicle, let alone a semi truck.”

A thousand “Founders Series” Roadsters can be reserved for the full $250,000 price, bringing in a nice influx of cash.

“This is a funding strategy,” said CFRA investment-research analyst Efraim Levy, noting that the 1,000 Founders Series cars alone would bring in $250 million in prepayments, with every standard Roadster order adding $50,000.

The standard Roadster requires $5,000 down, then $45,000 within 10 days, plus another $150,000 upon delivery.

Still, Levy said, Musk’s projects have been “brilliant and disruptive in so many industries,” and he considered the new Semi an “impressive and well-thought-out likely disruptor to trucking.”

The truck is the latest addition to clean-energy trucking technologies being considered for use at the twin ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, which are the single largest stationary source of air pollution in Southern California.

In addition to California’s self-imposed mandate of reducing greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020, officials at the ports vowed earlier this month to transition to all zero-emissions transport and cargo-handling equipment by 2035.

But since there are no affordable zero-emissions trucks on the market, air-quality regulators are now working to transition port-based diesel fleets to low-emissions trucks that burn methane gas.

Toyota began testing its first zero-emissions, heavy-duty truck powered by hydrogen fuel-cell technology over the summer at the ports. The 670-horsepower, class 8 truck can travel up to 200 miles on a 20-minute charge.

It was tested with progressively heavy loads of cargo for several months, and started real-world work in late October hauling loads from the ports to nearby rail yards. Such short hauls are expected to be the first to use zero-emissions technology at the ports,

Musk has called fuel-cell technology “incredibly dumb,” but Toyota has invested heavily in it for decades.

Another zero-emissions, short-haul technology called eHighway is now being tested on Alameda Street in Carson, across from Andeavor’s neighboring oil refineries and Kinder Morgan’s oil-storage tank yard. It transports electric and hybrid-electric trucks via overhead wires like a trolley.

Carnegie Mellon University engineering professor Costa Samaras, who studies electric vehicles, called the possibility that Tesla could shake up the trucking business “exciting,” but noted the firm’s challenges with getting vehicles to customers. “If it stays a concept car until 2030, then we have a problem,” Samaras said.

Trucking produces a quarter of U.S. transportation-related greenhouse gas emissions, Samaras said. “If we can take that quarter and cut it in half with an all-electric fleet, that’s big news,” Samaras said.

Two corporate giants quickly gave Tesla votes of confidence, with trucking behemoth J.B. Hunt pre-ordering “multiple” semis and retail titan Wal-Mart preordering 15 — five for the U.S. and 10 for Canada.

“We have a long history of testing new technology — including alternative-fuel trucks — and we are excited to be among the first to pilot this new heavy-duty electric vehicle,” Wal-Mart spokesman Ryan Curell said Friday.

“We believe we can learn how this technology performs within our supply chain, as well as how it could help us meet some of our long-term sustainability goals, such as lowering emissions.”

J.B. Hunt said it believed electric trucks with “this new, sustainable technology” will be most useful for short-haul trips.

Carnegie Mellon’s Samaras said the fact that people across the country were glued to Tesla’s livestreamed event Thursday night “said something really special about this moment in technology.”

“We need lots of Tesla-type companies in the transportation space,” Samaras said, “if we’re going to make big improvements in the energy and environmental performance of the transportation sector.”

Online Edition

A day after Tesla CEO Elon Musk unveiled a $250,000 Roadster billed as the fastest car ever on the market and a futuristic, zero-emissions big rig at Hawthorne airport, Wal-Mart signed up for at least 15 of the trucks.

But others weren’t as impressed.

Nov 27, 2017

Long Beach trucking company to pay $333K in criminal case for damaging streets with heavy loads

Online Edition

The Long Beach prosecutor’s office Tuesday announced a settlement in one of the largest criminal cases brought against a trucking company accused of damaging city roads and freeways by hauling loads that were too heavy.

Western Maritime Express, Inc., based in Long Beach, has pleaded no contest to 40 misdemeanor counts and three infraction charges the city alleged in two separate cases, according to a statement from the office of Doug Haubert, city prosecutor.

The company will pay $333,435 to settle the charges, including that it violated weight limits and failed to have proper permits to carry overweight loads between June 2016 to April 2017. Part of the settlement amount includes $213,435 in court fines and fees to Los Angeles Superior Court, and $120,000 in restitution to the city.

“Although it appears most trucking companies comply with highway safety laws, we need to reinforce the message that egregious violators will be caught and prosecuted,” Haubert said in a written statement. “And they will be held accountable.”

Bryan Schroeder, an attorney representing the company, said part of the problem is that it makes better business sense for manufacturers and distributors to ship heavy items such as granite and stone in large loads. When truckers arrive at the Port of Long Beach or Port of Los Angeles to ferry the products, they are charged if they don’t take the entire load, he said.

“The moment they pull out of the port, they are in violation of city laws,” said Schroeder, who represents roughly 60 trucking companies and said the problem is pervasive. If the trucking companies ask their customers to ship lighter loads, customers threaten to take their business elsewhere, he said.

He added that Haubert’s office has been working to come up with a solution to the problem, which he described as a “Catch-22” for the trucking companies.

Overweight loads create a public safety hazard, and cause damage to roads — including potholes — that are engineered to specific weight limits, the city statement said.

“Moreover, overweight vehicles cannot stop quickly if traffic comes to an abrupt halt, potentially endangering the lives of motorists,” the city said.

Breach of the city rules also creates an unfair competitive advantage to other companies who comply with rules and carry lighter loads at additional expense, Haubert’s office said, adding that “strict enforcement of weight laws promotes fair competition.”

Long Beach has brought other cases against trucking companies for carrying heavy loads, including an April 2012 case against Pacific Coast Container, Inc., an Oakland-based trucking firm.

Haubert’s office settled the case against the company, which was ordered to pay a total of $460,000 in fines and restitution. In that case, Pacific Coast Container, Inc. was convicted on 47 misdemeanor counts. One of the charges was for transporting a load more than 19,000 pounds over the legal limit.

In January 2015, a truck driver and a Rancho Cucamonga trucking company were found guilty of transporting a load weighing 10 tons more than the legal limit on Long Beach streets. A jury convicted Guadalupe Martinez and his employer, Martinez Trucking and Logistics, Inc., of a misdemeanor charge related to carrying an overweight load and misuse of a permit.

The case against Western Maritime Express was handled by Deputy City Prosecutor Pooja Kumar.

Online Edition

The Long Beach prosecutor’s office Tuesday announced a settlement in one of the largest criminal cases brought against a trucking company accused of damaging city roads and freeways by hauling loads that were too heavy.

Western Maritime Express, Inc., based in Long Beach, has pleaded no contest to 40 misdemeanor counts and three infraction charges the city alleged in two separate cases, according to a statement from the office of Doug Haubert, city prosecutor.

Nov 23, 2017

Tesla’s Semi already making waves at LA, Long Beach port complex — 2 years before its release

Online Edition

Tesla’s flashy unveiling last week of a futuristic, electric heavy-duty truck was an eye-opener for industry experts, who are hopeful but still wonder if its game-changing features could truly be mass-produced affordably.

Nevertheless, officials at the twin ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach are going along for the ride. They have met with Tesla engineers about the new Semi to offer tips and learn about its unique features.

“Tesla has been recognized as a leader in the development of battery technology and battery-manufacturing processes,” said Chris Cannon, director of environmental management for the Port of Los Angeles. “We’re anxious to see when they’re actually able to deliver a truck. Our goal is reaching zero-emissions technology for all on-road equipment by 2035.”

But few have seen the truck in person, let alone tested and gauged its possibilities. Even so, the company’s reputation and marketing strategy, a mix of Hollywoodesque hype and limited access, has helped draw curious interest from potential industry customers.

The company’s celebrity billionaire CEO, Elon Musk, claimed at its public unveiling at Hawthorne airport that it can drive for 500 miles on a single charge — double what existing electric truck technology offers.

The truck also carries autonomous-driving technology capable of taking over and driving itself if the driver’s hands leave the wheel during a route, and it comes with a 1-million-mile warranty, he said.

But the Semi won’t begin production for two years and there isn’t even a manufacturing facility for it yet. What’s more, Tesla has repeatedly failed to meet production deadlines on its low-cost Model 3 sedan, and the company abruptly fired 700 employees without notice last month.

Those facts didn’t dissuade the largest cargo hauler at the ports, NFI Industries, from reserving 10 Tesla Semis.

“Supposedly, they’re going to build a truck plant at the Gigafactory,” Tesla’s lithium-ion battery production facility in Nevada, said Ike Brown, president of NFI Industries. “I think the fact that they advertise the power train has a 1-million-mile warranty is huge. We operate our trucks over 100,000 miles a year and that would mean the whole power train is warrantied for almost 10 years.”

NFI Industries purchased California Cartage Co. in October and now has a fleet of about 2,500 trucks that do mostly local routes. Like other operators working at the ports, they are considering a range of emerging market options so it can transition to all zero-emissions trucks by 2035, a requirement in the newly approved Clean Air Action Plan.

Brown said he’s impressed with Tesla’s sedans and that, if the trucks operate similarly, he will be eager to buy them — if they are competitively priced.

“I kinda think the future of short-haul trucking is moving toward all-electric,” Brown said. “Tesla seems to have an advantage with its experience and knowledge on batteries. I hope they’re successful because I think (Musk) is a real visionary and they do build a good product.”

Nationwide, other large haulers, including Wal-Mart, Loblaws supermarket chain and JK Moving Services, reserved Tesla Semis as well. They have nothing to lose since the $5,000 reservation fee will be refunded if the company doesn’t deliver on its promises.

On Wednesday, Tesla increased the “base reservation” fee to $20,000 and announced that the trucks would cost $150,000 to $200,000 — a price range Brown said would likely motivate him to invest heavily in the vehicles.

But Tesla has a lot of competition. Daimler, Volvo, BYD Auto Co., U.S. Hybrid, Toyota, Transpower New Zealand and others are developing zero- and near-zero-emissions heavy-duty trucks. And diesel truck engines are cleaner than ever, as producers fit them with strong filters to meet government clean-air mandates.

“Tesla is entering a crowded field, as many major truck and truck engine manufacturers are developing electric trucks,” said Genevieve Giuliano, director of USC’s METRANS Transportation Center, which works to study and solve the region’s transportation problems. “We haven’t seen any demos, and there are no prototypes in service (in contrast to the other manufacturers). We have no information on the size of the batteries or the weight of the truck. Thus, at this point, we simply have a claim from Tesla.”

The Harbor Trucking Association, a coalition of cargo haulers in and around the ports, also has sought a demonstration of the new truck.

“There’s a tremendous amount of interest in the industry,” said Weston LaBar, executive director of the trucking association. “I think everybody would like to get a better understanding of what the price tag is going to be, and they would like to know that the 2019 date is going to be a solid launch time frame.”

Officials from the Port of Long Beach met with Tesla engineers recently to learn how the truck’s technology compares to hybrid, natural gas and other low-emissions vehicles on the market.

“I think the product that they have released, with the type of range they’re talking about and the capabilities, really highlights what’s possible with these type of trucks,” said Heather Tomley, environmental planning director for the Port of Long Beach.

“The program we laid out in the Clean Air Action Plan provides timelines and structure to introduce cleaner trucks and technologies as they become feasible. By 2023, the goal is to get as many near-zero emissions trucks to meet regional air-quality attainment needs.”

Cannon, of the Port of Los Angeles, said Tesla’s entrance to the electric-truck market is a good sign for the ports’ efforts to reduce pollution. The twin ports are the largest fixed source of emissions in Southern California.

“We’re excited to hear when large manufacturers commit to developing this kind of technology because we believe it has a greater likelihood of success when big companies get involved,” Cannon said. “We’re especially excited by Tesla.”

Online Edition

Tesla’s flashy unveiling last week of a futuristic, electric heavy-duty truck was an eye-opener for industry experts, who are hopeful but still wonder if its game-changing features could truly be mass-produced affordably.

Nevertheless, officials at the twin ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach are going along for the ride. They have met with Tesla engineers about the new Semi to offer tips and learn about its unique features.

Nov 21, 2017

Robotic cars may ignite a political revolt

Online Edition

WASHINGTON — In its race to embrace driverless vehicles, Washington has cleared away regulatory hurdles for auto companies and brushed aside consumer warnings about the risk of crashes and hacking.

But at a recent hearing, lawmakers absorbed an economic argument that illustrated how the driverless revolution they are encouraging could backfire politically, particularly in Trump country.

It was the tale of a successful, long-distance beer run.

A robotic truck coasted driverless 120 miles down Interstate 25 in Colorado on its way to deliver 51,744 cans of Budweiser. Not everyone at the hearing was impressed by the milestone, particularly the secretary-treasurer of the Teamsters, whose nearly 600,000 unionized drivers played no small role in President Trump’s victory last year.

Driverless vehicles threaten to dramatically reduce America’s 1.7 million trucking jobs. It is the front end of a wave of automation that technologists and economists have been warning for years will come crashing down on America’s political order. Some predict it could rival the impact of the economic globalization and the resulting offshoring of jobs that helped propel Trump’s presidential win.

“This is one of the biggest policy changes of our generation,” said Sam Loesche, head of government affairs for the Teamsters. “This is not just about looking after the health and welfare of America’s workers, but also their livelihoods.”

Washington isn’t ready for it. The Trump White House already has indicated it sees it as some future administration’s problem. Silicon Valley remains in shock over Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin’s remark in the spring that economic fallout from this type of automation is 50 to 100 years off and “not even on my radar screen.”

“I don’t think anybody there is thinking about this seriously,” said Martin Ford, author of “Rise of the Robots: Technology and the Threat of a Jobless Future.” “They are still looking at this as futuristic and not having an impact and not politically toxic.… Once people start seeing the vehicles on the roads and jobs disappearing because of them, things will quickly become very different.”

The arrival of that reckoning is getting accelerated by Washington’s bipartisan excitement for self-driving technology, one of the few policy issues advancing. New Trump administration regulations don’t require industry to submit certain safety assessments, leaving it voluntary. And legislation — already approved in the House and expected to pass in the Senate — strips authority from states to set many of their own safety guidelines.

Objections raised by the National Governors Assn. and the National Conference of State Legislatures don’t seem to be slowing things down. Consumer groups are dismayed.

“We understand how beneficial this technology can be, but we also understand that if we screw this up, human lives will be lost,” said Jackie Gillan, head of Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety. “We are at a time when there are already record recalls of vehicles because of safety defects. Why are we trusting these companies to do the right thing?”

Lobbying from the Teamsters succeeded in stripping commercial vehicles from the rapidly advancing congressional action. Automated commercial trucks would not get the exemptions to state and many federal rules as robot cars would in the legislation.

The concession — heralded as a big victory by the Teamsters — was met with a shrug by many in the automation world. They don’t expect it to slow the arrival of fleets of self-driving trucks on the road. The momentum is already there, they say, and agency regulators are working with the companies to get their prototypes highway-ready.

“It was a political sign that there is fear” about the impact of the trucks, said Bryant Walker Smith, a law professor at the University of South Carolina who researches vehicle automation. “But it is not in the long term going to hamper their deployment.”

How soon the potential for economic disruption spills over into politics is a matter of debate among technologists and futurists. But they agree it will be much sooner than Mnuchin predicts, and possibly as soon as 2020, when Trump would be up for reelection.

Trump claimed a bigger share of the labor vote than any Republican since Ronald Reagan, winning 43% of it nationwide, exit polls show. In Ohio, he beat Hillary Clinton commandingly in union households.

Hanging onto those votes is not as simple as tapping the brakes on driverless technology. Such a move would have its own economic fallout, as companies developing the vehicles could merely move abroad.

But if the White House and Congress don’t start addressing the disruption that self-driving vehicles and related automation will cause, economists and political scientists warn Washington may one day face the kind of voter backlash seen in the 2016 election. So far, the government is showing itself just as disconnected as it was to the troubles created for the same voters by globalization.

“Regardless of whether this creates a world where everyone has jobs or few people do, those jobs will be different,” Smith said. “Congress is not effectively discussing this. We don’t sufficiently understand this disruption.”

At a California start-up called Embark, there already are indications of how trucking jobs are about to change. The company has in recent weeks started test runs in which it is using self-driving trucks to ship smart refrigerators from a warehouse in Texas to a distribution center in Palm Springs. There is a driver in the cab, but for the bulk of the ride, when the truck is on Interstate 10, that person is not doing the driving. Eventually, there could be nobody in the cab for legs of the trip.

Embark’s head of public policy, Jonny Morris, joins the American Trucking Assns. in offering an optimistic vision — one in which truck drivers still will have jobs and their quality of life will be much improved. Instead of making long hauls thousands of miles, Morris said, they could stay in their communities and handle the more complicated short hops at the beginning and end of trips, along with loading and unloading.

“We believe automation can help improve the number and quality of jobs,” he said.

Teamsters executives are skeptical, particularly as many pilot programs exhibit a diminished role for blue-collar workers. Volvo, for example, boasts how the autonomous garbage truck it developed doesn’t need a driver in the cab to navigate the route, freeing up that person to load the trash bins. Two jobs appear to become one.

Many of the new positions created by such technology look nothing like the stable trucking jobs that are a staple of blue-collar America.

They involve coding, data analysis and operation of complicated computer systems. The training is sophisticated and costly. A college degree could become a prerequisite.

Ford, the author, says the White House and Congress better start paying closer attention to what self-driving technology means for truckers and others displaced by the new industry.

“If we don’t figure out a way to solve this,” he said, “there is going to be a backlash.”

Online Edition

WASHINGTON — In its race to embrace driverless vehicles, Washington has cleared away regulatory hurdles for auto companies and brushed aside consumer warnings about the risk of crashes and hacking.

But at a recent hearing, lawmakers absorbed an economic argument that illustrated how the driverless revolution they are encouraging could backfire politically, particularly in Trump country.

It was the tale of a successful, long-distance beer run.

Nov 07, 2017

Port plan offers healthier future for our children and grandchildren

Online Edition

If you need evidence that we do not have to make the false choice between prosperity and environmental health, look no further than the twin ports of the San Pedro Bay.

Our ports are the beating heart of Southern California’s economy — supporting one out of every nine jobs in our region, and nearly three million across the America. Close to 40 percent of all goods shipped into the United States come in through the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach.

That is an extraordinary economic impact, but the operations at these indispensable gateways to international commerce cause significant air pollution. Our communities deserve cleaner air, and that’s why the ports set out a landmark Clean Air Action Plan in 2006 to reduce emissions in a meaningful, measurable ways that improve air quality and protect public health.

The plan has already challenged us to deploy strategies that make real progress on reducing air pollution, and we know that it’s working — since the CAAP was adopted, we have reduced diesel emissions at the ports by 87 percent, and cut greenhouse gas emissions overall by nearly 20 percent.

Last week, our harbor commissions took this work even further by approving the first CAAP update in seven years: it includes measures that will help us reduce greenhouse gases 80 percent by 2050 and keep us on the path we set this summer for the ports to reach a goal of 100 percent zero emission drayage trucks by 2035; strategies to transition terminal equipment to zero emissions by 2030; and new incentives to help lower emissions by slowing ships down, and encouraging clean retrofits.

The CAAP also includes a new truck appointment system, to be in place by 2020, that will reduce truck wait times, so that the industry can be as efficient and profitable as possible.

And the ports will advocate together for the use of other possible funding sources — the Volkswagen settlement fund, the state’s Cap and Trade program, and other state and federal grants — to help the industry attain the goals of the CAAP Update.

The CAAP has helped deliver extraordinary progress over these last 11 years — but the truth is that our work has just begun. Realizing the goals in the new plan update will demand courage, compromise and bold leadership from our cities, the industry and everyone with a stake in a more sustainable future at our ports.

The road may be long, but we cannot afford to lose sight of our responsibility to shape a healthier future for our children and grandchildren. Let’s draw inspiration from the spirit of collaboration — between residents, industry stakeholders, environmental advocates, labor leaders, and elected officials — that has brought us this far, and work even harder to make more progress together in the months and years to come.

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If you need evidence that we do not have to make the false choice between prosperity and environmental health, look no further than the twin ports of the San Pedro Bay.

Our ports are the beating heart of Southern California’s economy — supporting one out of every nine jobs in our region, and nearly three million across the America. Close to 40 percent of all goods shipped into the United States come in through the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach.

Nov 08, 2017

Trolly-like system for heavy-duty trucks tested near the ports of LA, Long Beach

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A new zero-emissions technology designed for freight-transport trucks is making its U.S. debut along an industrial strip in Carson, where testing is underway for future use at the ports.

The $13.5 million test system, called eHighway, connects trucks that have electric motors with an overhead system of electrified wires that guide them independently — reminiscent of a streetcar.

Unlike a trolley, however, it moves heavy-duty trucks on public roads without tracks.

It’s one of several initiatives that environmental advocates and regulators believe show promise in lowering the extensive air pollution in the dense communities around the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, which together emit 100 tons of smog daily.

The 1-mile-long test track was financed by the Port of Long Beach, LA Metro, the California Energy Commission, the South Coast Air Quality Management District, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and a nonprofit group of local environmental advocates who won a legal settlement against China Shipping for pollution in the ports area.

“We saw the potential to extend the zero-emissions range in drayage (container or freight) trucks in communities that need it the most,” said Morgan Wyenn, an attorney with the Natural Resources Defense Council, which helped distribute the legal settlement over China Shipping. “We’re very proud to have given $4 million toward this project. We want the ports and the city to get on a real path to zero-emissions trucks.”

The developer of eHighway, Siemens Industry Inc., provided a public demonstration of the system on Wednesday along Alameda Street, from East Lomita Boulevard to the Dominguez Channel.

The test trucks —  an all-electric, a natural-gas hybrid-electric, and a diesel-hybrid  — glided silently along the track, surrounded by the roar of combustion-engine trucks moving cargo from the ports, rail yards, and among the many nearby industrial operations.

The track faces Andeavor’s massive refinery complex, Kinder Morgan’s oil pipeline and storage facility, and heavy diesel-truck traffic. It will remain there for about six months, while company officials test for kinks and its most efficient uses.

Besides the track, technology is connected to the trucks via large rectangular boxes behind the cabs. Sensors can detect when the overhead wires are above, and extend automated arms to connect with them. The sensors also can trigger disconnection from the wires, and reliance on the truck’s motor.

“(The technology) detects the contact lines, so it knows when the lines are above it,” said Siemens Vice President Andreas Thon. “This system is, in my opinion, the ideal solution for these heavy duty trucks.

“Americans rely on the goods and services that are carried by freight. But with that mode of transport predicted to double by 2050, only one-third of this additional travel can be handled by trains.”

The German company has already built the system in Germany and Sweden. But the U.S. poses special challenges, particularly in industrial urban areas with complex underground power lines that have to be negotiated to install the electrified overhead lines. In fact, this test was cut short from a year to six months because of a conflict with underground energy lines.

What’s more, government funding would be needed to install extensive eHighway infrastructure.

Last week, the Los Angeles and Long Beach ports approved a Clean Air Action Plan to eliminate emissions entirely by 2035.

But the technologies that will be adopted to accomplish that goal aren’t yet clear. Now, low-emission natural gas-powered freight trucks provide the best solution because they are more affordable and can be used on long-haul trips, officials said.

Trucks with electric engines likely will be first rolled out on short trips from the ports to rail yards, said Matt Miyasato, chief scientist at the South Coast Air Quality Management District, the region’s air quality watchdog.

“We’re interested in (eHighway) because it has the potential to haul containers with no emissions. We think that, in the future, we’re going to have to be very selective in the way we deploy technologies.”

Online Edition

A new zero-emissions technology designed for freight-transport trucks is making its U.S. debut along an industrial strip in Carson, where testing is underway for future use at the ports.

The $13.5 million test system, called eHighway, connects trucks that have electric motors with an overhead system of electrified wires that guide them independently — reminiscent of a streetcar.

Unlike a trolley, however, it moves heavy-duty trucks on public roads without tracks.

Nov 02, 2017

L.A., Long Beach ports adopt plan to slash air pollution and go zero-emissions

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The nation’s largest port complex approved a plan Thursday to slash air pollution by encouraging the phase-out of diesel trucks in favor of natural gas and, ultimately, zero-emissions trucks and cargo-handling equipment over the next two decades.

The Clean Air Action Plan, unanimously adopted at a joint meeting of Los Angeles and Long Beach harbor commissioners, provides a framework for transforming the massive hub for freight-moving trucks, trains and ships to cleaner technologies through 2035. But it leaves many details undetermined, including who will pay for up to $14 billion in cleaner trucks and equipment and which industries will benefit.

The plan is the most significant and expensive environmental initiative yet by the ports, which have sought to distinguish themselves from competitors over the last decade by pioneering air quality improvements, some of which have been replicated by other seaports and enshrined by California regulators.

Despite dramatic reductions in diesel emissions under the port’s 2006 clean-air plan, the Los Angeles-Long Beach port complex remains the largest single source of air pollution in Southern California, with progress tapering off in recent years.

State and local air quality regulators say attacking the ports’ overwhelmingly diesel-fueled operations is crucial to cleaning the nation’s worst smog to meet federal health standards, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and easing asthma, lung cancer and other pollution-triggered health problems from harbor-area communities to the Inland Empire.

Port officials said the plan seeks to accelerate pollution reductions while remaining sensitive to the economic effects of transforming the complex, which handles about 40% of U.S. imports and support hundreds of thousands of jobs across Southern California. Though the volume of shipments moving through the L.A.-Long Beach ports has tripled since the mid-1990s, they face increasing competition from East and Gulf Coast ports, which have less stringent environmental mandates.

By adopting the plan, the ports are expecting businesses and taxpayers to foot the bill. They are also sending a signal to manufacturers that there will be demand for cleaner trucks and freight-moving equipment, and, eventually, models with no tailpipe emissions.

Another question is how quickly the ports’ strategies will cut emissions and whether they will satisfy the demands of state and local regulators, who are increasingly targeting port pollution to reduce health risks and smog in time to meet federal deadlines.

While the plan outlines goals to slash greenhouse gas emissions 80% by 2050, it lacks new targets for reducing smog-forming emissions.

Key to the plan is a new Clean Trucks Program that uses fees on trucks entering port terminals and other mandates to phase out the oldest, dirtiest diesel trucks, transition to cleaner natural gas models, and ultimately switch to electric and other zero-emissions technologies.

Projections show most of the 17,000 trucks serving the ports becoming near-zero, or natural gas-fueled, by 2024. Zero-emissions trucks would become the majority by 2036.

Among other provisions, the plan requires that terminal operators begin deploying zero-emission cargo-handling equipment in 2020 with a goal of making a full transition by 2030. It also calls for expanding the use of emissions-capturing devices to reduce pollution from docked cargo ships.

Before casting votes, commissioners heard from environmentalists, community groups and elected officials, some holding their asthma inhalers, who expressed disappointment. They said the plan does not go far enough to mandate the cleanest technologies and to ease the pollution-triggered illnesses suffered by residents in the shadow of the ports.

Urging accelerated deployment of near-zero-emissions trucks was the natural gas industry, which in the short term is expected to reap the benefits of the rollout of such technologies.

Commissioners also heard from Tesla Motors Inc. and other manufacturers that said heavy-duty electric trucks would be commercially viable sooner than expected.

Some environmental groups criticized the plan as a windfall to the natural gas industry and said it lacks clear milestones to force the adoption of zero-emissions trucks.

“It’s not a path to zero-emission trucks. It’s a natural gas plan,” said Morgan Wyenn, an attorney for the Natural Resources Defense Council. “And it’s a very expensive distraction from where we need to go.”

Port officials defended the plan as a balance between near- and long-term goals, and between economic and health concerns. They called it a “technology neutral” plan that doesn’t mandate any fuel in particular, but leaves it to industry to decide how to comply.

Business groups, cargo-moving industries and truckers have criticized the estimated price tag of up to $14 billion, which they say could cause more shippers to divert cargo to other ports.

John McLaurin, president of the Pacific Merchant Shipping Assn., told commissioners he fears the cost “and its potential negative impacts on port competitiveness and the one in nine jobs in the Southern California region that are reliant on the ports.”

The projected price dwarfs the nearly $2 billion in public and private funds spent implementing the 2006 clean-air plan. That has stoked worries among truckers that they will shoulder the cost of expensive, and perhaps less reliable, natural gas-fueled rigs, then battery electric and hydrogen fuel cell models.

The plan includes assurances that “it should not fall solely on the drivers to fund the transition to a new truck fleet to serve the ports.” But labor and community groups said it lacks sufficient safeguards for drivers.

Mayor Eric Garcetti suggested that expected advances in technology will create a market for electric vehicles that will eventually reach a “tipping point,” even without firm benchmarks by the ports.

“We will get to zero emissions, make no mistake,” Garcetti said.

Garcetti urged regulators to secure the funds needed to make that transition and expressed confidence in officials “to hold our feet to the fire and to implement this the right way.”

Online Edition

The nation’s largest port complex approved a plan Thursday to slash air pollution by encouraging the phase-out of diesel trucks in favor of natural gas and, ultimately, zero-emissions trucks and cargo-handling equipment over the next two decades.

Oct 28, 2017

LA, Long Beach port security concerns prompt congressional hearing

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Security concerns at the nation’s ports, heightened by a security breach and a cyberattack this year at the Port of Los Angeles, will be the focus of a hearing by a congressional committee Monday in San Pedro.

Members of the House Committee on Homeland Security will take testimony from officials of the L.A. and Long Beach ports, the Trump administration and longshore union starting at 1 p.m. at the Port of L.A. Harbor Administration Building. No public comment is scheduled.

The panel, which is chaired by Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, and includes California Reps. Nanette Barragan, D-Carson, and Lou Correa, D-Santa Ana, is holding the rare on-site hearing to examine what the U.S. government and the maritime industry are doing to keep ports safe.

The committee says U.S. seaports account for 26 percent of the nation’s economic activity, raising fears that an attack could both endanger the public and disrupt the economy.

“This is an exciting opportunity to host my colleagues from both sides of the aisle,” Barragan said, “so they can see first-hand the successes and challenges of securing the nation’s busiest container port.

“The cargo that goes through the Port of L.A. touches every congressional district. $272 billion worth of commerce flows through the (L.A.) port each year. The entire national economy relies on it being safe and secure. That’s why this field hearing is so important.”

In June, a cyberattack against the Danish shipping giant A.P. Moller-Maersk forced the Port of L.A.’s largest terminal to close for three days  In August, a man driving a stolen vehicle blew past security gates at the Port of L.A., climbed a 120-foot crane and stripped off his clothes before falling to his death, an incident that prompted port officials to announce tightened security.

Online Edition

Security concerns at the nation’s ports, heightened by a security breach and a cyberattack this year at the Port of Los Angeles, will be the focus of a hearing by a congressional committee Monday in San Pedro.

Members of the House Committee on Homeland Security will take testimony from officials of the L.A. and Long Beach ports, the Trump administration and longshore union starting at 1 p.m. at the Port of L.A. Harbor Administration Building. No public comment is scheduled.

Oct 29, 2017

How local port officials plan to spend billions to cut pollution

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A major – and likely expensive – plan to reduce air pollution around the country’s two busiest container ports may soon be approved by those who govern each port.

Commissioners in charge of setting policy for the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach are scheduled to assemble for a special joint meeting on Thursday. Their task is decide whether to approve the 2017 Clean Air Action Plan Update, which is a proposed update to an 11-year-old plan that port officials describe as being highly-effective in terms of curbing air pollution around the local harbor.

The proposals run parallel to an existing promise to replace diesel and natural gas burning trucks and equipment with zero-emissions technology by 2035. That kind of equipment is not presently available on a large-scale, commercial basis, which concerns industry types who are worried about having to pay for as-yet unproven strategies.

“As the next CAAP is implemented, it will take open, honest and collaborative dialogue by all parties to address the feasibility of zero-emission cargo-handling equipment and to examine the ports ability to compete with other North American trade gateways,” Pacific Merchant Shipping Association president John McLaurin said in a statement.

McLaurin’s group represents shipping companies and terminal operators. The leader of a local trucking industry group expressed similar concerns.

“Pilot programs and feasibility studies will be key to the success of any transition to new technology. Industry should be the ones that decide what technologies are and are not viable,” Weston LaBar, executive director of the Harbor Trucking Association said in an email.

A representative of a Southern California environmental group, however, does not think the plan goes far enough.

“Saddling our communities with natural gas or combustion-based fuels will further perpetuate the environmental injustice impacts from the Ports that not only harbor area residents experience but the folks places like the Inland Empire and other areas that are riddled with natural gas storage tanks, fueling stations, and other infrastructure,” Taylor Thomas, research and policy analyst for East Yard Communities for Environmental Justice, said in an email.

Rick Cameron, the Port of Long Beach’s managing director of planning and environmental affairs, said port officials have worked hard in an attempt to balance industry interests with the health interests of people living near the ports or trade corridors, such as the 710 Freeway.

“That’s a lot to put on the shoulders when you talk about one plan,” he said.

Cameron said port administrators won’t force anyone too buy technology that doesn’t hold up to work requirements, is cost prohibitive or simply doesn’t exist. The idea, he said, is for port leaders to treat the plan as a living document, with additional decisions related to such issues as the feasibility of various technologies to come in the future.

“This isn’t a one-time deal,” he said.

The meeting is scheduled to begin at 8:30 a.m. Thursday at Crowne Plaza Los Angeles Harbor Hotel, 601 S. Palos Verdes St., San Pedro.

What Are the Costs?

Officials from the twin ports estimate $7 to $14 billion in new costs.

What May be Gained?

Port officials want to continue improvements in local air quality, which could reduce the risks that people living around Long Beach, San Pedro, Wilmington and other places may contract pollution-related diseases such as asthma or cancer. Reducing greenhouse gas emissions is another plan objective.

What Are the Risks?

Port officials acknowledge that some of the technology required to implement the plan, such as zero-emission big rigs, are not yet commercially available, although the plan’s authors also express confidence in ongoing attempts to invent viable, clean technology. Industry advocates like McLaurin and LeBar have expressed worry that new costs may result in cargo being diverted to other ports, or that future technology may not be reliable.

What are the Strategies?

The draft plan seeks reduce pollution through such means as accelerating the trucking industry’s adoption of recently-built trucks and near-zero or zero-emissions technologies, assuming they become available.

The document also calls for port officials to lobby for stricter environmental regulations at the national level, to finance technology demonstration programs around Los Angeles’ and Long Beach’s docks, and to employ public subsidies for purchases of environmentally-friendly technology.

What Are Some Specific Requirements?

Any new drayage trucks (rigs employed to haul containers between port facilities and distribution centers) that enter service at either port next year must be no older than a 2014 model year vehicle

As of 2020, the ports will charge fees to all trucks that do not meet state government’s near-zero emissions standard. By 2035, only zero emissions trucks will be exempt from the charge

As of 2020, terminal operators must ensure all newly-acquired equipment is zero- or near zero-emissions technology, if possible

Beginning in 2025, vessel operators would have to pay a fee when docking older model vessels at either port.

What Has Already Happened?

The twin ports adopted the Clean Air Action Plan in 2006, later modified in 2010, which at the time of its release was reported to be an unprecedented attempt to reduce pollution around a large U.S. seaport.

The original plan preceded the ports’ implementation of the Clean Trucks Program, which mandated trucking companies’ replacements of older, more polluting big rigs.

Among other regulators’ actions, the California Air Resources Board implemented a rule that went into effect in 2014 requiring vessel operators to plug into shore-based electricity sources, or use agency-approved emissions capture technology, while at berth. The rule is intended to stop ships from spewing pollution when burning their own fuel to produce electricity.

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia announced in July that their respective administration’s are demanding zero-emissions vehicles at the ports in 2035.

Have existing plans worked?

Port officials report the answer is yes. Data included in the draft plan shows diesel particulate emissions around San Pedro Bay have declined 87 percent since 2005. Reported levels of nitrogen oxides and sulfur oxides have, respectively, have fallen 56 and 97 percent.

Online Edition

A major – and likely expensive – plan to reduce air pollution around the country’s two busiest container ports may soon be approved by those who govern each port.