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December 18, 2007 8:30 AM, EST

Long Beach Approves Cargo Fee

Drivers Protest Over Plan’s Cost
Larry Smith/Trans Pixs

The Port of Long Beach, Calif., Harbor Commission approved a $1.6 billion tax on cargo Monday to combat air pollution and clear the way for expansion projects, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Beginning June 1, a $35 charge will be placed on every loaded 20-foot equivalent cargo container entering or leaving the Long Beach port by truck, the Times said.

Port of Long Beach Commission President Mario Cordero expects the fee to generate $1.6 billion by 2012 to help fund a less-polluting truck fleet serving the port, the paper reported.

The new fee — which will help subsidize a fleet of newer, cleaner trucks at port terminals — has come under fire from truck drivers who say they cannot afford to operate newer model trucks, the paper said.

Port authorities acknowledged the fee may boost the cost of goods shipped by container, but said they cannot continue to move goods or expand terminal operations, without reducing health risks from air pollution, the Times reported.

The neighboring Port of Los Angeles is scheduled to consider a similar fee on Thursday, which is likely to be approved, the paper reported.

The two ports, which make up the largest U.S. port complex, handle about 40% of the goods imported into the United States.