Law Suit Attacks LA/Long Beach Port Trucking Plans

The Concession Plan is aimed at limiting access only to trucking companies on the ports’ Drayage Truck Registry. These regulations are part of port management’s “Clean Truck Program” that seeks to significantly reduce air emissions.

Scheduled to go into effect on October 1, the Clean Truck Program will require all trucks entering the ports to meet 2007 emission standards by 2012 and completely ban any trucks with pre-1989 engines. Trucks not meeting the 2007 standards would be charged a Clean Trucks Fee.

The overall goal is to reduce emissions from trucks operating within port areas by 80% within five years. In addition to a number of other restrictions, the Port of Los Angeles (LA) requires all drivers to be company drivers. Additionally, the Port requires all drivers to have federal Transportation Identification Worker Cards (TWIC).

The American Trucking Associations and its affiliated Intermodal Motor Carriers Conference (IMCC) have filed a suit attacking the Plan.

In commenting on the legal action, Bill Graves, president and CEO of ATA, claimed, “We firmly believe that these concession programs unlawfully re-regulate the port trucking industry to the detriment of motor carriers, shippers, and the businesses and consumers that depend on the products that are handled at those ports.

“We are particularly concerned with the Port of Los Angeles’ concession requirement that will lead to a complete ban of the use of independent contractor/owner operator drivers in servicing that port’s operations within five years,” he continued. “That requirement, which has nothing to do with the clean air goals of the ports’ Clean Truck Program, threatens a well-established trucking industry operational practice that provides efficiencies and the flexibility needed for the trucking industry to effectively serve our customers.”

In the filing, ATA notes that the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach together handle more than 40% of all international container traffic in the US and together are the fifth most active container port complex in the world. Contentions are that large numbers of drayage owner-operators would be put out of business and that commerce would be slowed at the ports.

Graves emphasizes that there is no intention of interfering with clean air efforts by the ports. He points out that the litigation in no way challenges any aspects of those efforts. Curtis Whalen, IMCC executive director concurs. “We are challenging only the intrusive and unnecessary regulatory structure being created under the Concession Plans," he says. “As Congress recognized when it created price, routes, and services preemption, regulatory schemes like the concession plans burden interstate commerce and are bad for the American economy.”

While the ATA suit asks for an injunction against implementation of concession requirements, the Port of Los Angeles intends to move ahead with the key components of its Clean Truck Program that will go forward as planned. Federal Judge Christina Snyder has scheduled a hearing on September 8 for a preliminary injunction to stop implementation of clean truck concession plans.

Geraldine Knatz, executive director of the Port of LA cautions that, "The ATA lawsuit is not a pass to ignore the in-place deadlines of the clean truck plan. Drayage trucking companies which are serious about doing business with the port would be prudent to continue on track to complete concessionaire applications, get their trucks registered on the system, make sure their drivers have TWIC cards and make sure they have no pre-1989 trucks in their port fleet that will be denied access on October 1."

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