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ATA files suit against California Ports

July 29, 2008
The American Trucking Assns. (ATA), along with its Intermodal Motor Carriers Conference (IMCC), has filed suit in the U.S. District Court of California challenging the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach on the “concession plans” requirement in their Clean Trucks program

The American Trucking Assns. (ATA), along with its Intermodal Motor Carriers Conference (IMCC), has filed suit in the U.S. District Court of California challenging the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach on the “concession plans” requirement in their Clean Trucks program.

According to the ports, the plan will cut port-related diesel truck emissions by 80% by requiring licensed motor carriers that service the ports to enter into drayage concession agreements that will remove high-polluting trucks from the ports.

The plan is scheduled to begin at both locations on October 1, 2008, with the ports granting five-year renewable concessions to carriers that comply with the CTP guidelines and pay a one-time application fee of $2,500 and fees of $100 per truck annually, the ports said.

The CTP’s requirements include committing to using 100% employee drivers by 2013; using trucks for drayage that meet US EPA 2007 heavy-duty truck emission standards; ensuring drivers and trucks comply with driver training, vehicle maintenance, inspections and driver hours standards; registering drivers with the port’s drayage truck registry database and ensuring enrollment in the federal Transportation Worker Identification Credential (TWIC) program; and agreeing to affix radio-frequency identification devices (RFID) to vehicles.

According to the California Air Resources Board, pollution from ports contributes to hundreds of premature deaths each year and costs the public between $100 million and $590 million each year in health impact costs.

“We are pleased to bring to the trucking community a concession agreement and application that reflect a truly strategic approach to cleaning the air, strengthening safety and security of the port, and creating a port drayage system that will be economically viable and environmentally sustainable for the long haul,” said Port of Los Angeles executive director Geraldine Knatz.

However, according to ATA, CTP will result in fewer trucking companies being able to service the ports, reducing competition and effectively barring independent owner-operators from servicing the port within five years.

In its filing, ATA asserts the ports’ actions violate the federal statutory provision (49 U.S.C. § 14501), which prohibits states from enacting or enforcing a legal requirement that is “related to a price, route, or service of any motor carrier.”

“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,” said ATA president & CEO Bill Graves.

“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,” Graves 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.”

“We are challenging only the intrusive and unnecessary regulatory structure being created under the Concession Plans," IMCC executive director Curtis Whalen said. “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.”

“Despite the additional costs that our industry will incur, we strongly support the ports’ efforts to reduce truck emissions and our lawsuit does not challenge any aspect of those efforts,” Graves added.

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