LONG BEACH, Calif., – Several heavy-duty trucks and other vehicles powered by natural gas began a coast-to-coast road trip today that will span from Long Beach to Washington, D.C. Locally, the natural gas semi-trailers are being used to demonstrate one way to improve Southern California’s air quality. The event, called ‘Road Rally Across America,’ was kicked off by representatives from the California Natural Gas Vehicle Coalition (CNGVC), which is calling for the adoption of low nitrous oxide emissions heavy-duty truck technology powered by renewable natural gas in the Clean Air Action Plan of the San Pedro Bay Ports.
“NGVAmerica and its membership, including companies like Clean Energy and SoCalGas, believe that natural gas-fueled vehicles are the best and most immediate solution for eliminating the negative impacts of diesel and combatting climate change,” said Chad Lindholm, vice president of sales for Clean Energy and representative of NGVAmerica. “By putting on this rally, we hope to draw the attention of communities and elected officials that a cleaner solution to diesel is available today.”
The Road Rally’s spotlight on natural gas trucks is especially relevant in Long Beach, where about 13,000 heavy-duty diesel engine trucks that haul goods from the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach emit greenhouse gases and asthma-causing nitrous oxide emissions. Approximately 80 percent of the region’s smog comes from the transportation sector, with the single largest contributor of this pollution being heavy-duty trucks moving in and out of the San Pedro Bay Ports. The region’s air quality could dramatically improve by deploying an increasing number of zero- and near-zero emission trucks, according to CNGVC.
“The residents of my community deserve to breathe cleaner air, free from contaminates emitted from nearby commuting diesel trucks. The technology for near-zero-emission heavy-duty natural gas vehicles exists today and can transform our diesel-dominated freight movement system,” said South Gate Councilmember Jorge Morales. “I support today’s NGVAmerica Road Rally because it heightens awareness of the immediate need to push for cleaner trucks fueled by natural gas.”
Port Commissioners are currently reviewing the San Pedro Bay Ports’ Clean Air Action Plan (CAAP). As written, the CAAP relies on a long-term transition plan that includes adopting zero-emission technology, which will allow diesel trucks to continue polluting the air for another 19 years. CNGVC and other proponents of clean fueling say renewable natural gas vehicles offer a viable and immediate solution, as detailed in an “ACT Now Plan,” available here.
“This Road Rally couldn’t happen at a more ideal moment. Right now, the San Pedro Bay Ports want to clean our air and protect our climate through their Clean Air Action Plan which targets dirty trucks — the single largest contributor to smog. But unfortunately, that Plan doesn’t go far enough,” said Maywood Councilmember Eddie de la Riva. “The ports must demonstrate leadership by moving toward cleaner trucks and by replacing dirty diesel trucks with heavy-duty trucks that run on clean burning natural gas because that will improve our air quality.”
The Los Angeles-Long Beach metropolitan area is ranked among the most polluted areas in the nation for high levels of ozone and for levels of year-round particle pollution, according to the most recent “State of the Air” report from the American Lung Association. The study also revealed that asthma disproportionately affects the low-income and minority children.
“Studies tell us that residents in the neighborhoods near the ports and transportation corridors have high rates of asthma and other upper respiratory conditions. Just by breathing, many residents inhale unhealthy air that is making them sick,” said Cudahy Councilmember Cristian Markovich. “Replacing dirty diesel trucks with heavy-duty trucks that run on clean burning natural gas will improve our air quality now. I endorse today’s NGVAmerica Road Rally because we need cleaner trucks fueled by natural gas.”
The San Pedro Bay Ports — and all related activity from the goods-movement sector — emit more than 40 percent of all smog-forming pollutants in Southern California, according to the South Coast Air Quality Management District.
“Residents who live near the ports and near transportation corridors deserve to breathe cleaner air. These families are most affected and they should not continue to pay high health costs because they live near the ports,” said Long Beach Councilmember Roberto Uranga. “We need clean trucks fueled by natural gas on our roads because they can give us cleaner air.”
The NGVAmerica Road Rally demonstrated the reliability and availability of heavy-duty trucks powered by natural gas. The 4,825-mile cross-country rally, sponsored by NGVAmerica, demonstrates the benefits of clean trucks and cars fueled by natural gas.
“The latest generation of zero-equivalent natural gas engines exceed the required air quality standard by 90 percent, and they are available today. There is no reason to wait,” said Thomas Lawson, president of the California Natural Gas Vehicle Coalition. “Despite what you hear on Twitter, we are a long way from being able to purchase electric and hydrogen trucks. Trucks fueled by natural gas are the only immediate solution.”
During the NGV Road Rally, many vehicles that rely on natural gas will participate in the two-week trek across America, stopping at various locations such as Albuquerque, New Mexico; Tulsa, Oklahoma; Salisbury, North Carolina and Newport News, Virginia, among others. At each stop, advocates for natural gas vehicles will give educational demonstrations highlighting the importance of natural gas as a clean fueling source.
“Air pollution affects all of us and remains one of our region’s biggest public health issues, particularly for those in disadvantaged neighborhoods near busy transportation corridors. Vehicles fueled by natural gas offer all of us a viable, affordable solution that can be implemented today,” said Lisa Alexander, SoCalGas’ vice president of customer solutions and communications and a NGVAmerica board member. “Heavy-duty trucks fueled by renewable natural gas can offer us cleaner air and they can transform those major transportation corridors.”