The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey has reversed plans to ban older trucks that fail to meet emission standards from hauling cargo at the Newark and Elizabeth seaports.

BIG_TAU, ThinkStock
BIG_TAU, ThinkStock

The agency and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced five years ago they would deny entry to all trucks that didn't meet 2007 federal emission standards beginning next year to help improve air quality, but officials said they underestimated the cost.

Port Authority spokesman Steve Coleman told The Record ( newspaper it would have cost more than $150 million in grants to drivers to help replace 6,300 trucks built before 2007.

"Nobody realized the scope of the issue then compared to today," Coleman said.

The agency is instead committing $1.2 million to help drivers who own their own vehicles to replace about 400 trucks, along with $9 million from federal agencies. Trucks that are older than 2007 and already registered at the ports will still be able to pick up and drop off cargo. Older trucks that aren't registered will be banned.

Clean-air advocates, upset by the move, said the Port Authority had detailed numbers in 2010 on how many trucks they would have to deal with by 2017.

"For them to say they didn't know the scope of the problem is absurd," said Amy Goldsmith, chairwoman of the Coalition for Healthy Ports.

Coleman said that of the 9,000 trucks that regularly serve the ports, about 2,700 have newer, cleaner engines.

"We're stopping the bleeding," Coleman said. "Older trucks won't be added to the registry."

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