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Truckers calling foul on Port of Seattle emissions rule

Truckers working out of the Port of Seattle are uniting in opposition after a new emissions rule forced them to upgrade their trucks. They aren’t protesting the rule, however. They want it fully, fairly implemented.

Rob Graham with Graham Trucking was among the 53 percent of companies that made their vehicles compliant with 2007 federal emission standards — the port now requires truckers to meet those standards. They were supposed to become compliant by January 1. But truckers who did not comply are still working at the port, and the deadline has been pushed out another year. Graham wants the port to enforce the rule evenly after his company, and others, spent millions on new trucks.

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“It’s the most arbitrary and capricious extension I’ve ever seen in my life. They have to show some kind of a note saying they will buy another truck … and that will get you a full year extension,” he told KIRO Radio’s Dori Monson. “… Rather than spend millions of dollars they are spending now, again, for these non-compliant truckers, I want them to give that money to the compliant truckers to offset the additional cost we have.”

Non-compliant truckers keep on truckin’

Graham said he was told “that if we did not have engine model year 2007 or newer by Jan. 1, 2018 we would not be allowed in the port.” He said he has emails dating back seven months with the port stating it would not push out the deadline and would enforce the new emissions rule on time. So he paid to meet the new standard. But the port did push out the deadline and non-compliant drivers are still operating. He has reached out to the port after the original deadline came and went, but has heard nothing back.

“They’ve done nothing but turn their backs on us,” he said.

Crosscut reports that about 4,500 trucks operate out of the port, and many drivers say they cannot afford to make the upgrade or buy a new truck. The drivers that did make the switch are planning to sue the Seaport Alliance for allowing the non-compliant drivers to keep on trucking. Graham is among them.

Graham’s company owns four businesses, including Graham Trucking which alone has about 100 trucks. At the new emissions standards, he says that his trucks are now less-competitive with the older models, more expensive to maintain, and less fuel efficient.

“Everything that will put you in compliance is not good. These trucks are not good,” Graham said.  “We now compete with companies that didn’t have to make the investment; they don’t get the lesser fuel economy, they don’t have to add DEF, which is an additive like diesel that you put in these trucks that are part of what supposedly cleans (the emissions) … They don’t have the maintenance on these new trucks that are horrifically worse than an older truck.”

Hear Dori’s full conversation with Graham here.

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