Because Punishing Ships Creates More CARB Trucks Overnight… /sarc;

The “Logistics Crisis” unfolding at Long Beach & Los Angeles ports is entirely the result of CARB banning over 1/2 of the nation’s trucks from operating in California; interacting with the “STOP the economy – NO! START it again!!” whipsaw by politicians with no economic clue.

The result of this has been a huge exodus of trucks, and in many cases the trucker who owns said truck, from the State. Just in time for a large bolus of cargo ships to show up full of containers just while empty containers are stacking up unable to return to China.

All those containers get moved about, full or empty, on trucks. Trucks that are no longer allowed to operate, for about 1/2 of them.

Quite predictably, a load of containers were not leaving the port very fast and a LOT of ships stacked up, anchored, off shore. This became an embarrassement to the Biden Admin (at least, to the extent they can be embarrassed…).

In true bureaucratic boondoggle form, they formed a “Commission”, which promptly decided that unloading more containers into more space on shore would clear out the backed up ships and all would be Just Fine.

They, of course, could not see what everyone else could see:

Making a bigger pile of containers on shore does not increase the number of trucks or truckers moving them away. The key bottleneck in the process.

Time passes, and exactly that has happened. So the ports of L.A. & Long Beach have decided that punishing ship operators will create more trucks and truck drivers… In a spectacularly “This time for sure!” moment, they have decided to put a fee on any container sitting on land too long (having create the problem of stacking them up on land to empty the ships…)

October 29, 2021

It sounds so good and wholesome, doesn’t it? “Measures” is far better than “punitive fees”. “Speed Cargo Flow” sounds like they expect the cargo to leave faster on those same fixed number of approved trucks and drivers who are unable to work more hours due to The Law.

So when you have a physical limit and MUST do a physical change in the number of trucks operating, what does every good QUANGO do? Why, implement a FEE of course! Because raking in some money is the way to get someone else to build trucks and train drivers, right?

The Long Beach Board of Harbor Commissioners on Friday approved implementation of a new fee on ocean carriers designed to speed the flow of cargo from Port of Long Beach marine terminals during an unprecedented surge in shipments.

Containers that linger too long on the docks are delaying the berthing of vessels, leading to record numbers of ships waiting off the coast, and consumers and businesses across the U.S. left waiting for crucial shipments.

Note that this fee is dumped on the “Ocean Carriers” not the owners of the box nor the truck company hired to remove it (they get their own new FEE for missing an “appointment” because fining truckers is a sure fire way to get them to come around a lot more often and wait in line to pick up a box…/snark;)

Then, having created this “lingering containers” issue by unloading ships waiting at sea, and NOT increasing the truck flow: they now assert it is the containers sitting there that’s the problem

The Harbor Commission approved a “Container Excess Dwell Fee” program that will be implemented on Nov. 1. The fee will not be assessed until Nov. 15. The Port of Los Angeles’ board approved an identical measure Friday.

So say you are an “Ocean Shipper” with a big fat container ship headed to unload at Long Beach or L.A. port. You have somewhere between 10,000 and 20,000 containers to unload. What kind of “FEE” might await you?

The ports will charge ocean carriers for each container that falls into one of two categories. For containers scheduled to move by truck, the fee applies to every container dwelling nine days or more. For containers moving by rail, the fee applies if the container has dwelled for six days or more.

The fee increases in $100 increments per container per day until the container leaves the terminal. The Port has the authority to not start charging the fee, should there be progress by Nov. 15.

They do not say what the initial fee will be, but let’s assume it is the same $100 that they get hit with for each additional day. Here’s the fees for days 1 to 7:


Add that up, you get $2800 for one week for one container. Now multiply by 10,000… $28,000,000 for the week. $7700 / container for week two, or $77,000,000 for the lot for the 2nd week. Over $100M for the two weeks.

As a Ship Captain, knowing that you have several $MILLION riding on the “unload when?” decision, what would you do?

Well me, I’d sit at anchor until there was NOTHING on the dock going to get in front of my containers. Were I “in transit”, I’d just throttle back to about 1/4 speed, save a load on fuel, and let the port get cleared out before I arrived.

Were I a manager at an Ocean Shipper out of Asia, I’d be looking to route my ships to Seattle, Portland, San Diego, hell, even around the cape and into Houston or the East Coast. (Not to mention Canada and Mexico and shipping via rail to the Midwest from there).

Do note that none of this “Punishment” will fix the actual problem of insufficient trucks and truckers due to Administrative Screwage.

It may clear out some of the pile of containers on shore that piled up from the Biden Policy of just running the port longer hours and getting ships emptied. But it will not increase goods delivery.

“This is the nation’s leading cargo gateway, and this crisis has national impacts. We need to take action to facilitate the rapid movement of cargo through the supply chain, and this plan will help,” said Port of Long Beach Executive Director Mario Cordero.

No, it won’t. As the rate is set by the arrival of Approved By CARB trucks and trains, and that is already running at capacity (given the ban on older trucks and shortage of drivers) it will NOT speed up “movement of cargo”. I expect it will slow it down a lot more as ships at sea throttle back and divert.

“Combined with our push for expanded hours of operation, more space for containers and other measures, we are determined to eliminate the backlog.”

Yeah, those longer hours and more piles of containers on the dirt that caused this longer “dwell” time in the first place.

“This is the latest step in our collaborative efforts to ensure a more efficient supply chain. We’re not doing this to collect revenue

Oh Lordy that’s a good one! “Collaborative Efforts”? Is that what you call punishment these days? Soaking $Millions from shippers is “collaboration”? Remind me never to “collaborate” with you. Tell you what, if it isn’t to collect revenue, how about you turn all that money over to the out of work truckers who own pre-2010 trucks and can not work now.

– we need those containers to be moved off our terminals promptly,” said Steven Neal, Harbor Commission President. “We will do everything within our power to help our supply chain partners overcome the current challenges.”

Yeah, because partners unilaterally impose punishment and fees on each other…

The two ports have worked closely with President Biden’s Supply Chain Disruption Task Force on this issue.

Yeah, I can see that. Absolutely. Has Biden and “Disruption Task Force” all over it…

But at least with 1/2 of the trucking fleet banned, and the port moving at a glacial pace, they met their air quality goals… Golly, and all they had to do to meet them was shut down for a year then run at 1/2 speed /snark;

October 28, 2021
2020 Air Emissions inventory graphic: Diesel Particulate -90%; NOx -62%; SOx -97%; Greenhouse Gases -10%; TEUs +21% – compared to 2005 levels
For the first time, the Port of Long Beach has achieved all of the 2023 emission-reduction goals outlined in the San Pedro Bay Ports Clean Air Action Plan, despite moving record volumes of containerized cargo.

I’d really like to know what period of time that “record” was covering vs the time period in the “air goals”… just not enough to actually look it up…

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About E.M.Smith

A technical managerial sort interested in things from Stonehenge to computer science. My present "hot buttons' are the mythology of Climate Change and ancient metrology; but things change...
This entry was posted in Economics - Trading - and Money, Emergency Preparation and Risks, News Related. Bookmark the permalink.

24 Responses to Because Punishing Ships Creates More CARB Trucks Overnight… /sarc;

  1. H.R. says:

    Supply Chain Disruption Task Force, eh? Biden actually has a task force to disrupt the supply chain?

    Well, finally! After failing at everything else, it’s something that the Biden administration can claim as a rousing success.

    Plaques and bonuses for all! (10% for the Big Guy.)

  2. jim2 says:

    It’s on a slow boat from China.

  3. Years ago a type of planning that now seems to be called “What if analysis” was common. I have forgotten the earlier name. In this case it seems to be goal driven and “what if” free.

    The authoritative goal seems to have been clean the air.

    For others the goal seems to be support unions.

    These concepts have, like waves, increased the amplitude of the logistics issues.

    I think you have done a thoroughly good job of explaining how the California mind-set has brought this about. It was a fun read about a sad affair.

  4. H.R. says:

    Were you thinking of Failure Effects Mode Analysis, John H, or something else?

  5. rhoda klapp says:

    No skin in this game, but, the Federal Government could use its power over interstate commerce to define a pathway out of the ports, onto the interstates and out of CA.. A corridor where any truck registered legally in any US state can operate. And have a system where a driver who will take the next container to wherever it needs to go will get paid immediately by the shipper and priority without queuing. Let the truckers make money, they will clear your backlog.

    (Nothing in the actual plan encourages the truckers to even take part, when it ought to allow them to profit.)

  6. H.R. says:

    @rhoda klapp – That’s a very sensible and practical solution, but…

    … are you smoking crack?!? 😜

    This is Government we’re talking about. They have no clue about the incentives of the profit motive. That’s a ‘carrot’ solution. In fact, profit is a dirty word to them and is to be prevented by any means necessary. Now, coercion via taxes and fines, the ‘stick’ solution, they understand. It’s all they know.

    I’ll bet they have already started planning the “fact-finding” trips to Swiss ski resorts to see how they handle their container problem. Hey! The Swiss don’t have container ships and containers stacking up, so someone needs to go see how they manage to do that. Same for Paris and Bali. All trips paid for from the fines collected, of course.

  7. Simon Derricutt says:

    Rhoda – that’s far too sensible a solution for the government to implement (or even think of). However, since it would also impact those air-quality targets, because more trucks would arrive to transport the containers, I can’t see it being implemented anyway. We can’t allow such targets to be missed. Think of the children having to breathe that polluted air (and ignore the problem that they also need to eat).

    Related to EM’s explanation is which though it doesn’t add much over what we’ve discussed here does at least show that others also see the same things. Problem is really whether anyone is going to admit there’s been a mistake made so that steps can be taken to correct it.

  8. H.R. says:

    Simon D: “Problem is really whether anyone is going to admit there’s been a mistake made so that steps can be taken to correct it.”

    No mistake. It’s a feature, not a bug. The West and ‘Capitalism’ must be completely destroyed in the Glorious Revolution so that a Socialist Utopia can arise from the ashes… or so some believe.

    If you look at it from the GRBs standpoint, a Socialist government is a better deal than all the effort that’s required to amass great wealth with a bunch of competition to contend with along the way.

    The GEBs wind up with all the wealth the middle class had. Under Socialism, there are a few ‘haves’ owning almost everything, and everyone else is a ‘have not’.

    The current system is ‘have nots’, ‘have a bit and maybe a good bit’, and ‘haves’. The goal is to get hold of all that wealth being held by those nervy buggars in the middle. It’s a bonus if a few of the current GEBs get knocked out of the game and their wealth goes into the pot; even more money and fewer to share it with.

  9. rhoda klapp says:

    Many a revolutionary movement in history has found that although you can bring the whole thing down, once it is down you have no control over what comes next. Being a billionaire, being a senator, being a community organizer, those things only work as part of the society we have. When it’s gone all bets are off.

  10. p.g.sharrow says:

    It would appear to me that the people that caused the problem have no incentive to repair it. and in fact are proud of their effort. The port authority has no power to fix the problem so must force others to find a solution by their draconian fee structure. Everyone blames everyone else because “it is not my fault!” Shippers are seeking a solution, Avoid Californian ports is their solution. This will take time to sort out, Thousands of people will lose their jobs and wealth but CARB can brag on their fine work of dismantling California’s economy. Their new rules have not yet begun to really bit into everyone’s life. Their solution is to ban ALL combustion engines and embrace All electric transportation. Their mantra is people can figure it out if we ban all other alternatives. The port authorities say that people will figure it out if we fine them for using our facilities. No problem, don’t use their facilities. Truckers will stay out of California. The Cost of living here will go up even more while the job market will get worse.

    Bureaucrats will always destroy the economy that they manage, ALWAYS. They must control everything within their purview and consequences are not their problem as they can not be held responsible. It is them or Us. We don’t need them…pg .

  11. H.R. says:

    For certain, rhoda.

    I really don’t want it all to fall apart on my watch. But if it does, I think there will be some fine entertainment seeing the surprise on the faces of all the people who thought they’d be in charge.

    Typically, the old warlord system is the replacement. My best guess is that the drug cartels and the motorcycle and street gangs will be best positioned to control various fiefdoms in the event of a total collapse.

    I don’t think the national military will hold up. I suppose there are plans for continuing communications, but an army runs on its stomach and I don’t see the military holding up after logistics fail. Perhaps some military units will hold together to control a patch of territory, but it will be only for their benefit.

    Technology will go back to the mid or late 19th century other than a few things, firearms being one of them. Forget about cellphones, and you can toss all of the microwave ovens after the fuel for generators runs out.

  12. Ans to H.R.
    Not that. I recall a man’s name and a series of equations where an input can be changed and then follow all the impacts as that works through the model of the economic thing of interest.
    It is like a Monte Carlo simulation, except that is not the name I recall. And it included “what if?” meetings.
    Ex: Say you are making and selling cars. Steel is an input and has a cost. Alternatives to steel are, say aluminum and plastic. Engineers have provided equations telling you what parts (now steel) can be switched, and the savings to final cost. Next, input a rise of 10% in the cost of steel. Work through the calculations. Sit around a table with managers and all ask questions, such as, “will car buyers accept aluminum wheels? What about plastic seats?
    I read about this 1965-1970 — never used it, so the memory is gone.

  13. p.g.sharrow says:

    Maybe some day I should recount how the new C.A.R.B. along with the new E.P.A. working with the Watermelon Ecoloons tried to strangle the aborning Solid State Electronics in California by banning all new Silicon creation and fabrication. to drive it to other countries. Fairchild’s lawyers and an inventor turned the tables on them after they got a friendly Judge to issue an order that they thought could not be met that would prevent new wafer creation in California. Only the “Grand fathered in” Bell Labs could continue.

  14. E.M.Smith says:

    I’ve avoided San Francisco for years (decades?) but had reason to go into the city a few days ago. It is worse than the last time I was there (and it was pretty rough then). A LOT more Street People, a LOT more trash on the streets (or hovels built from trash). Harder to get around. More people crossing at intersections stepping out in traffic regardless of color of traffic lights. Delivery vans just stopping in traffic lanes to unload / load as there is no alternative. No parking available.

    These big cities are already on the edge of collapse. All buildings owned only by GEBs / Corporations (everyone is a renter in apartment blocks). Workers who do the daily migration in and out and a mob of Street People with nowhere to go and no way to leave, leaching off the rest.

    It took me a while to get my “City Driving Skills” back. Rush through on the RED, don’t stop for it at the change. Position IN the intersection so you can use the red to complete a turn. Lanes are only a suggestion and if stuck behind someone just define a new lane to get past them (deliveries, left turns, someone with a schmuck in front of them…). Remember that two wrongs don’t make a right but 3 lefts do (one way streets…).

    I doubt I’ll ever return to San Francisco. It has nothing to offer me and a lot of PITA that offends.

    These cities are already on the edge of collapse. IF they go a couple of days without a constant supply of water, food, electricity, basically everything, they will end up in chaos. A doorman and a glass door will not hold back a hungry mob of Street People if the Cops can not commute in from the suburbs for their shift… You can not halt the machine and not have it collapse. Shut off fuel and San Francisco dies. It is that simple.

    IMHO you want to be at least 50 miles from any major urban core. (At present I’m about 25… but that changes starting in about 3 weeks…)

    But it does explain to me the mind set of our GEBs in Gubmint. They live in those glittering penthouse suites above the chaos of Street People and without seeing the workings of the infrastructure and Worker Bees trying to keep it all going. To them it is clear that They are the ones in charge of everything and that throwing money at Street People will keep them safe. Beyond that? Crickets. They do not see the sewer workers, the electrical workers, the food delivery trucks. That just doesn’t exist in the Penthouse View.

  15. E.M.Smith says:

    @John Hultquist:

    Sounds like the Linear Programming we did in Econ class. Optimization problems.

    Linear programming (LP, also called linear optimization) is a method to achieve the best outcome (such as maximum profit or lowest cost) in a mathematical model whose requirements are represented by linear relationships. Linear programming is a special case of mathematical programming (also known as mathematical optimization).

    More formally, linear programming is a technique for the optimization of a linear objective function, subject to linear equality and linear inequality constraints. Its feasible region is a convex polytope, which is a set defined as the intersection of finitely many half spaces, each of which is defined by a linear inequality. Its objective function is a real-valued affine (linear) function defined on this polyhedron. A linear programming algorithm finds a point in the polytope where this function has the smallest (or largest) value if such a point exists.

    A kind of formalized mathematical “What If?”…

  16. YMMV says:

    What if all the commissioners who set port policy were all appointed by the mayor on the basis of their progressive merits? Read their bios here: “meet the commissioners”

    “Commissioners make up to $7,000 per year, depending on the number of meetings they attend.”
    “Crane operators make up to $260,000 a year”
    “Los Angeles and Long Beach are at the bottom of a list ranking the world’s 351 ports for efficiency. At rankings of 328 and 333, respectively, combined with empty shelves throughout America, something appears to be off.”
    “The current scenario of more than 100 ships waiting off the coast of Los Angeles and Orange counties to unload their cargo has often been blamed on a lack of truck drivers. Truckers say slow crane operators are the culprit. Both the truckers and the shippers welcome automation to speed up the process.”
    “The five-member commission does not have anyone serving from the trucking or shipping industries, which are the other parts of the trifecta involved in port operations.”

    “The ports will charge ocean carriers for each container that falls into one of two categories. For containers scheduled to move by truck, the fee applies to every container dwelling nine days or more. For containers moving by rail, the fee applies if the container has dwelled for six days or more. The fee increases in $100 increments per container per day until the container leaves the terminal.”
    “The two ports have worked closely with President Biden’s Supply Chain Disruption Task Force on this issue.” (Ah-ha! There’s the problem!)

    “The twin ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach are, together, the single largest source of air pollution in the metropolitan Los Angeles area. Both ports have implemented a number of environmental programs to reduce pollution levels while continuing port growth.”
    Worse than cars? In any case, it seems that for the past twenty years, the focus of the ports has been on environmental issues, targeting both ships and trucks.

  17. E.M.Smith says:


    Easier than that:

    California Air Resources Board only exists via a Federal Exemption. Rescind the exemption, CARB ceases to exist & Federal EPA rules apply. End of problem.

  18. rhoda klapp says:

    EM, I was only trying to solve one of California’s problems. Your solution solves many of them, not to mention your own personal moving problem…it would cause a significant increase in the state’s GDP. Sacramental would hate it.

  19. Compu Gator says:

    John Hultquist commented on 4  November 2021 at 2:22 am UTC [*]:

    Years ago a type of planning that now seems to be called “What if analysis” was common. I have forgotten the earlier name.

    John Hultquist commented on 4  November 2021 at 2:58 pm UTC [*]:

    It is like a Monte Carlo simulation, except that is not the name I recall. And it included “what if?” meetings. [….] I read about this 1965-1970 — never used it, so the memory is gone.

    I’m not a financial person, so my earliest exposures to the use of the pair “what if?” as if it were a legit adjective phrase would’ve been seeing early marketing for VisiCorp’s Visicalc (1979) or Lotus Software’s 1-2-3 (1983), for the Ɑpple or IBM microcomputers (respectively) [⌗], e.g.:
    • pages of early publications like BYTE.

    I did find 2 plausible origins last night, altho’ I did not dig:
    sensitivity analysis “Redirected from What-if analysis” [♦].
    • short story by Isaac Asimov: “What if–” (1952) [☆].

    Note * : ;

    Note ⌗ : To my surprise, neither Wikipedia page contains the word pair, hyphenated or not: ;

    Note ♦ :  Almost all the cited papers are from the 21st C., altho’ it would just be another example of Wkp.‘s obsession with newness, thus its habit of neglecting seminal works in a field.

    Note ☆ :

  20. Russ Wood says:

    What if the proposed ‘fines’on the shippers came to more than the Panama Canal fees? If the delayed ship fits the ‘Panamax’ criteria, might it not be better for delayed ships to look at the ‘short cut’ to East Coast ports?
    With regard to ‘sensitivity analysis’, I was once working on a ‘cheep, cheep’ Air Traffic Control system – like two of us for a year? Then the Defence Ministry came up with ‘Safety Analysis’ requirements for software, which required everything to be designed using ‘Lambda mathematics’, which probably was only understood by a couple of academics in our country! Anyway, to satisfy the bureaucrats, I had to come up with SOME form of analysis, and what I found was a backwards ‘fault tree’, STARTING with a fault and tracing back the reasons for this occurring. Yep, a 12 page report, with diagrams, of how to design to prevent an ‘air miss’ or something worse. I told my boss that he could have all of the OTHER cases analysed by next year, maybe, if the ministry came up with the funds…

  21. cdquarles says:

    No question in my mind that if those fees got high enough, the shipping companies would find that alternate routes become worthwhile. Time is money and money is time. Enough time spent idling and enough money spend on fines equals find another way. (This is another instance of supply and demand, by the way.)

  22. E.M.Smith says:

    An update on shipping conditions from 15 Nov. Confirms what I thought would happen. More ships holding off at the 300 mile mark for example. Yes, eventually this will clear out the backup, but only via slowing down freight arrivals and keeping ships further out.

    Also of note is that statement that China has their ships blocking the name and destination information from AIS. While this link:

    shows you the traffic parked outside of Long Beach / LA, and they do show name and destination if you hover a mouse over a ship, the ones over near China do not. Just says things like “Cargo” or “Tanker” or “Fishing”. So just why would China want to hide all those ships identities and destinations…

    And yes, he also shows that some traffic increase has happened at other ports and looks at them too. Yet notes that many containers have a consignment destination that makes shipping to gulf or Eastern ports problematic. (I expect Ensenada to pick up a lot of West Coast traffic soon…) (Comes up in Spanish and after a text nag, launches some verbal thing chattering at you…)

    What I noticed looking at the log jam at the Chinese coast, is that a couple of tactical nukes or a couple of conventional carpet bomb runs would shut down one heck of a lot of the global shipping from Asia… I wonder if China has considered that in their planning to invade Taiwan…

    OK, my take on things is that the actual movement of more cargo into the USA is NOT going to improve any time soon. Ships will just hold off longer and / or load cargo for destinations where they get decent turn-around times. Not going to help the thousands of ships already contracted or in motion, but folks will adapt to get the most profit / week. Penalties, fines, and long delays will not be encouraging folks to aim for the California ports.

  23. YMMV says:
    “Having attacked truckers, California now has a new target”

    In 2027, they’re going to require all ships in California ports to turn off their onboard generators and run only onshore power.
    That links to:
    which is dated 28 Aug 2020, so the rule is not exactly new.

    This is the quote I like:
    The Devil’s Dictionary defines an “honest politician” as “one who, once bought, stays bought.” Well, California politicians are not honest —

  24. E.M.Smith says:


    California already mandates that ships operating inside 25 miles of California (and, I think, destined for California) MUST run California Regulations Ultra Low Sulfur “clean Diesel” that’s terribly expensive. That means most ships need a 2nd fuel tank for inside the 25 miles. Beyond that, they can swap over to bunker fuel oil of “whatever” quality but very cheap. Inside that, they must burn the very expensive stuff.

    Sort of limits what ships can even come here…

    All part of the “War on fossil fuels” underway now. Eventually folks will just say “F-it” and doc in Mexico to unload. Encenada has already done a major build out.

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