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Congressmen revive effort to ban older trucks at NY-NJ
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Two New Jersey congressmen are trying to revive a plan to ban trucks with engines made in 2007 or older from the Port of New York and New Jersey, which faced past opposition from truckers worried that the ban would put them out of business.

Democratic US Reps. Donald M. Payne, Jr. and Albio Sires, whose districts include port marine terminals in Elizabeth, Bayonne, and Newark, have sent a letter to Gov. Phil Murphy, also a Democrat, urging him to reconsider the decision to “abandon this critical program” made during the administration of his predecessor, former Gov. Chris Christie, a Republican.

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey abandoned the plan in January 2016 in favor of an incentive program that at present offers a $25,000 grant to help buy a new truck to the owners of trucks with motors built in 1995 or earlier. The program in 2017 removed about 200 trucks from the port, or about 2 percent of the active drayage fleet.

The port authority, then and now, was caught between environmental groups opposed to easing the truck-replacement deadline and motor carriers who said enforcement of the ban on pre-2007 trucks would put them out of business.

Ban affects high percentage of trucks
The plan would have banned about 6,000 trucks, or 70 percent of the active drayage fleet, from entering port terminals, starting on Jan. 1, 2017. Motor carriers had warned that the deadline was impossible to meet and that, unless changed, would have crippled the East Coast’s largest port, where 85 percent of containers move by truck.

Payne and Sires, in their letter, said the neighborhoods around the port “comprise some of the state ’s most economically distressed residents, who because of exposure to diesel exhaust suffer from higher rates of asthma, lung cancer, and pre-term births.”

The letter noted that the elevation of the Bayonne Bridge, which ed last June, is expected to bring additional cargo and revenue to the port, and asked “where does this leave residents impacted by air pollution at the port?”

As word leaked out about the letter, the Association of Bi-State Motor Carriers offered a quick response.

“Port trucks represent only 5 percent of the trucks in the Ironbound area,” the association said in a tweet. “Yet once again, we are blamed for 100 percent of the problem.” The tweet included a link to a 2015 report, “North East Regional Truck Study,” compiled for the port authority.

Murphy’s spokesperson, Daniel Bryan, did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the letter by late Wednesday. The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey was not available for comment.

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