Los Angeles ports’ Clean Trucks program leads to costs, complications

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Trucks are driven near the Ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles, the busiest port complex in the US, on September near Long Beach, California.

Two major trucking companies that signed on to the Clean Trucks Program at the Port of Los Angeles may owe the port money.

Three years ago, port officials and L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa announced to great fanfare that cargo movers Knight Transportation and Swift Transportation would sign up for the Clean Trucks Program. That effort aims to phase out the oldest, dirtiest trucks that serve the harbor complex.

It also would require that drivers work as employees, not just contractors, of trucking companies. To encourage companies to sign on, the Port of Los Angeles offered more than $40 million in incentives to buy clean diesel or liquid natural gas trucks.

Now the port wants some money back. Under the deal, companies were supposed to send trucks through the port a minimum number of times to qualify for incentives over five years.

Trucks at some companies didn't make the first-year minimum. The port wants almost a million-and-a-half dollars back from Swift.

Five other companies including Knight owe the port $100,000. Port officials have told trade publications that they may impose other penalties on trucking companies in the future if they don’t comply with Clean Trucks guidelines.

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