California Ports defend Clean Truck Program from ATA suit

LOS ANGELES — The ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach have shot back at the American Trucking Association, which is seeking a court injunction of the ports’ controversial Clean Truck Program.

The ports filed their opposition in the U.S. District Court in Los Angeles, claiming that ATA’s requested injunction is without legal basis.

Among other things, the Clean Truck Program requires drayage providers to commit to using 100-percent employee drivers by calendar year 2013 in a phased-in schedule. This way, the port will be able to hold those companies accountable for maintaining environmentally friendly trucks and employing properly credentialed drivers.

Over 80 percent of the 17,000 short-haul trucks operating at the twin ports are reportedly independents.

Furthermore, a fee will be levied against trucks entering the terminals that do not meet 2007 EPA emissions standards.

The ATA contends the rule violates interstate laws and creates a competitive disadvantage between large and small carriers.

The ATA’s requested injunction does not apply to
issues of safety and security, say the ports.

The ports’ counter that the federal statute that the ATA’s argument relies upon does not apply to the special tidelands property on which the ports are located, meaning that the ports’ — much like landlords — have the right to manage and control the terminal lands as they see fit.

The U.S. Supreme Court has previously decided that the tidelands were granted to California directly under the U.S. Constitution and subsequently granted to the Cities.

Furthermore, courts have in the past upheld the "Market Participant Doctrine", which allows programs such as the Clean Truck Program concession requirement.

Also, the ports claim that the statute clearly does not apply to port actions directed to the safety and security of the ports, which are among the Clean Truck Program.

The ports’ opposition also emphasizes that the ATA’s alleged injuries are merely financial in nature and, therefore "cannot justify the extraordinary action of the preliminary injunction it seeks."

Finally, concludes the ports’ opposition filing, these "claimed financial injuries are more than outweighed by the public health and security interests of those who work at the ports and who live near the ports."

The ATA has not challenged certain aspects of the program, including the truck ban that prohibits 1988 and older trucks from entering the ports and the ports’ grant-lease programs which assist truckers in acquiring new, clean trucks.

The court has set a hearing for Sept. 8 to consider the ATA’s request for the temporary restraining order. If not blocked, the CTP is scheduled to take effect on October 1.


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