Cali port wins court battle, war not likely over

LOS ANGELES — The rules in place to clean up the air at the Port of Los Angeles, and govern the truckers who operate there, are perfectly legal, according to a federal judge.

According to a report by truckinginfo.com, last week a federal judge in California upheld the Port of Los Angeles’ concession program for drayage carriers, setting the stage for an appeal by the trucking industry.

Judge Christina A. Snyder of the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California found that the concession program is legal because the port is a private business, which makes it exempt from the law that says only the federal government has the authority to regulate trucking business operations.

While the American Trucking Associations is supportive of the port’s Clean Air program overall, there are a few aspects of the program the ATA contested. Last year, a panel of judges thought there was some merit to the ATA’s claims and put an injunction on some of the concessions in the program.

In the tentative ruling last year, Judge Snyder ordered an injunction against seven key concession requirements, including one of the main points of contention that would require all operators to be company drivers and would ban independent owner-operators from the Port of Los Angeles.

The LA Port’s position is that owner-operators will not be able to afford modern engines that are necessary for the port to reach the Clean Port targets.

In this recent development, because the judge’s decision is a finding, rather than a ruling, the current injunction against the concession program remains in place, said Curtis Whalen, executive director of the Intermodal Motor Carriers Conference of the American Trucking Associations.

In the near future, Judge Snyder will issue a ruling based on her finding, and it’s possible she will keep the injunction in place in the expectation of an appeal by ATA, but Whalen expects she will lift it. At that point ATA will appeal either back to the District Court or to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit – most likely the latter, Whalen said.

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