LOS ANGELES, CA – The Ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles have approved a landmark Clean Air Action Plan that calls for the replacement of older, ‘dirty’ diesel-powered trucks with more than 5,000 heavy-duty natural gas models. According to a release from Clean Energy, the ports will allocate $200 million in public assistance to help truckers acquire the new vehicles. In addition, they hope to tap additional state funds to underwrite the clean air plan’s costs, as California voters approved a new $20 billion bond measure for transportation projects, which includes a $1 billion allotment for clean up efforts at the State’s ports.

Environmental activists and neighborhood groups have long asked the ports aim to reduce harmful air emissions in the area, and the proposed transformation of the fleet servicing the port could help reduce pollution by nearly 50 percent. By 2012, port officials expect to eliminate all high-polluting diesel trucks from cargo-hauling service — either by retrofitting trucks currently in use or replacing older vehicles with new clean fuel-burning trucks. These efforts are critical since studies have shown that diesel exhaust causes cancer and is responsible for 70 percent of pollution-related health problems and hundreds of deaths annually in the Los Angeles region. According to regulators, the Long Beach and Los Angeles ports together are the largest contributors to smog from diesel engines in the area.