California ports might be forced to clean up environment program

LOS ANGELES — A handful of controversial measures making up the Ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles’ Clean Port program were put on hold by a U.S. federal judge recently.

The Clean Port program was implemented back in October 2008 and the American Trucking Associations (ATA) began seeking an injunction against some of the plans, including a requirement for drayage carriers to use only company drivers.

Earlier this year in March, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth District unanimously ruled in favor of ATA and remanded the case to the U.S. District Court, indicating the judge should grant ATA an injunction against all or part of the Concession Plans.

“The Court of Appeals’ decision made very clear that ATA never opposed any of the environmental goals of the Ports’ Clean Trucks Plan, just components that illegally regulated the drayage industry at the Ports,” Robert Digges Jr., ATA vice-president and chief counsel.

On Monday, Judge Christina Snyder of the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California upheld the Court of Appeals ruling and made a tentative ruling to enjoin many of the principal elements of the Ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles’ Concession Plans.

A final decision and full explanation from Judge Snyder is expected later this week, while a trial date has been set for Dec. 15.

In the tentative ruling, Judge Snyder ordered an injunction against seven key concession requirements that would illegally regulate interstate commerce at the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach:

– the employee mandate that banned independent owner-operators from the Port of Los Angeles;
– the driver hiring preferences of both plan:
– the motor carrier financial capability requirements of both plans;
– the driver health insurance mandate of the Long Beach plan;
– the designated routes and parking restrictions of both plans;
– the contractual tie-in of the clean truck tariffs mandated by both plans;
– the concession fees of both plans.

The ATA insists it has always supported the retirement of older dirty diesel trucks from the ports along with the container fee that assists in the transition. Enjoining these concession plans will not affect the goals of the Clean Trucks Program.

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