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Clean Energy Hitches onto SoCal Port Trucking Association

Zeroing in on California’s Long Beach and Los Angeles ports as a major source of the region's air pollution, Clean Energy Fuels Corp. has forged a partnership with the Harbor Trucking Association (HTA) to be the fuel supplier for more than 8,000 drayage trucks.

The agreement, announced Wednesday, would allow Clean Energy to provide specialized fuel programs to HTA's more than 100 member trucking companies as the industry begins implementing the Clean Air Action Plan (CAAP) adopted by the two ports, which combined handle 40% of the U.S. marine imports.

In addition to providing compressed natural gas (CNG) and liquefied natural gas (LNG), Clean Energy plans to provide workshops on technology funding, as well as assistance in writing grant requests for operators looking to upgrade their equipment.

Clean Energy plans to demonstrate its near-zero emission technology vehicles by getting the trucking company drivers "behind the wheel of demonstration trucks that offer the newest technology," a spokesperson said.

The agreement also commits both sides to helping facilitate more funds for fleets and drivers that seek to transition to new near-zero emission equipment.

Last November, the commissions overseeing the Long Beach/LA ports jointly approved sweeping air pollution plans embodied in CAAP that calls for eventual electrification of equipment and operations, including trucking. Proponents estimate implementation could cost $7-14 billion.

Natural gas transportation advocates have rallied around the action as a chance to combine the use of renewable natural gas (RNG) with low-nitrogen oxide heavy duty natural gas vehicle (NGV) engines.

HTA CEO Weston LaBar called the partnership a "solutions-based" action as the use of CNG and LNG  is "another solution in which our members can decrease their carbon footprint while remaining commercially viable."

Clean Energy’s Greg Roche, vice president for sustainable trucking, said “the trucking industry is facing many challenges and opportunities, particularly those companies that do business at the ports.”

Separately, Assembly Bill 2061, the Clean Truck Deployment Act, has been introduced in the California legislature to "level the playing field" for zero-emission and near-zero-emission trucks, including NGVs, to ensure that they can have similar carrying capacities as competing diesel and gasoline-fueled trucks.” The bill would would remove weight-limit barriers.

California officials have identified transportation as the source of 40% of the state's greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

"Heavy duty trucks -- from garbage trucks to big rigs -- operating with gasoline or diesel are the most concentrated source of GHG emissions on our roads," said Assemblyman Jim Frazier, the transportation committee chairman who also introduced the bill.

The legislation is designed to address the fact that engines and propulsion systems in NGVs, hydrogen and electric vehicles add as much as 2,000 pounds to a vehicle.

Elsewhere, transit bus manufacturer New Flyer of America Inc. has new contracts to supply CNG buses to the Fort Worth Transportation Authority in Texas and two transit systems in California’s Orange and San Diego counties.

FWTA is getting 46 Xcelsior CNG 64-foot heavy duty transit buses, while the Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA) would receive six.

The San Diego Metropolitan Transit System (MTS) also has a contract with New Flyer for 50 Xcelsior CNG 60-foot buses to add to a current fleet of 220 40-foot New Flyer CNG buses and 70 60-foot buses.

New Flyer President Wayne Joseph said the bus maker is helping FWTA fulfill its master plan and aid California transit operators to meet their clean air goals.

"As San Diego and its surrounding regions continue to invest in the development of a compact urban core, the need for efficient transportation will increase," Joseph said.

Finally In Germany, Volkswagen Group and some industrial partners are continuing a campaign to promote the use of NGVs and alternative fuels through grid operations and fueling stations. NGV engines are currently experiencing the most robust growth in the alternative fuel sector, according to the German Federal Motor Transport Authority.

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