Pacific Maritime Magazine - Marine Business for the Operations Sector

By Chris Philips
Managing Editor 



November 1, 2018

Humorist Will Rogers once said, “Everything is funny, as long as it’s happening to somebody else.”

This is especially appreciated by those of us not doing business or living in California, which is ready to implement more than a thousand new laws during the final year of Governor Jerry Brown’s current term.

Here’s a new law that isn’t funny, brought to our attention by law firm Holland & Knight LLP. According to a California statute set to take effect in January 2019, ocean carriers, marine terminal operators and shippers engaging port drayage motor carriers that default on obligations to pay employees will be jointly and severally liable for the sums that the carriers fail to pay to, or for the benefit of, their drivers.

In other words, the end user would be financially liable for debts incurred by drayage companies.

The California Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE) will publish a “blacklist” of defaulting carriers, so that carriers and other businesses that hire these firms can avoid using such motor carriers and thus avoid such liability.

In response to this recently enacted statute, the law firm recommends that ocean carriers, MTOs and shippers should diligently review the DLSE blacklist and not work with blacklisted companies, in order to avoid liability.

This law seems tailor made by the Teamsters to further punish independent truckers and the companies that hire them. Especially when one notes that the bill exempts certain businesses engaged with drayage carriers. Namely, the bill doesn’t impose the liability on businesses whose employees are covered by a collective bargaining agreement (emphasis ours), or businesses that wish to terminate an existing contract.

Also not funny, and brought to our attention by Ed Welch, Legislative Director for the Passenger Vessel Association, is a new effort by California to consider stricter emissions requirements for existing vessels.

The current “Commercial Harbor Craft Rule” to reduce emissions already imposes reporting and operational measures on passenger vessel operators. Welch says it has forced replacement of older engines with less-polluting engines pursuant to a governmentally imposed schedule. California is the only US jurisdiction to mandate that most vessels with older engines (Tier 1 or older) must be repowered with engines meeting newer standards (Tier 2 or Tier 3) before the end of the older engines’ economic lives.

California Air Resources Board (CARB) is considering additional requirements for Commercial Harbor Craft to further reduce emissions, including even more stringent in-use and new vessel requirements for passenger vessels (ferry and excursion) and the mandating of Tier 4 engine technology on in-use vessels, advanced retrofit emission control devices, stricter emission standards for marine engines, hybrid vessels and alternative fuel technologies. Not funny.

It’s not just California anymore. In Tacoma, Washington, Puget Sound Energy (PSE) is working to develop a facility to provide LNG for natural gas customers and maritime transportation needs, including fueling TOTE Maritime Alaska vessels.

Even though LNG is the cleanest option available for maritime vessels in the Port of Tacoma, the project is opposed by the usual suspects, including a network of well-funded anti-carbon zealots who “believe in a safe climate and a better future” which is attainable if we just “Revoke the social license of the fossil fuel industry.”

PSE is currently awaiting its clean air permit from the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency, which has prepared a Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement to evaluate greenhouse gas emissions. The major conclusion is consistent with PSE’s conclusion that the Tacoma LNG project will result in a net reduction in greenhouse gases. No kidding.

Supporters of the project are encouraged to comment at by November 21st.

Chris can be reached at


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