Air district offers last-minute help to Oakland truckers


By Steven T. Jones
Truckers at the Port of Oakland often wait hours for a load, the older trucks spewing unhealthy levels of particulate matter and other pollution the whole time.

Just as low-income truckers were about to be shut out of the Port of Oakland on Jan. 1, the Bay Area Air Quality Management District and California Air Resources Board have come up with another $3 million to help them comply with strict new emissions control standards that are designed to improve the unhealthy air in West Oakland.

As we reported on Dec. 16, hundreds of truckers who had qualified for the retrofit assistance program were facing a loss of livelihood when that $22 million fund ran out of money. Now, with the infusion of an additional $3 million, 580 truckers will get $5,000 each to offset the cost of new filters that can cost $15,000 or more. Those who qualify will get their compliance date pushed back to April 1.

“While the new emissions regulations for Port trucks embraces Oakland’s goals of reducing environmental impacts, my office has been working collaboratively to provide the much-needed support for the truckers trying to comply with such regulations,” Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums said in a prepared statement. “This announcement is a significant step in the right direction.”

The Guardian has long covered the issue of how to balance the health needs of the truckers and residents of West Oakland – which has high rates of asthma and other respiratory ailments because of the long lines of idling dirty diesel trucks – with the economic realities of independent truckers, whose average incomes have plummeted since then-President Ronald Reagan deregulated the trucking industry.