Judge Blocks Challenged Elements of Port Clean Trucks Programs
April 30, 2009
A judge for the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California this week issued a final order immediately enjoining certain elements of the Ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles' Concession Plans.
The American Trucking Associations had challenged the Concession Plans, part of the Clean Trucks Program at the ports. ATA had asked the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit to review a district court's rejection of its bid for the injunction. The appeals court came back with a unanimous ruling that ATA should get the injunction.
ATA contends that aspects of the concession plan are illegal and discriminatory. Under the Los Angeles plan, for example, to be eligible to buy a concession a carrier must agree to use only employee drivers within five years. This in effect bans owner-operators from the business. The ports contend, on the other hand, that the concession program is necessary to ensure that drayage carriers will sustain emission requirements, as well as safety and security standards.
The seven key concession requirements enjoined by Judge Christina Snyder are:
1. The employee mandate of the Los Angeles plan;
2. The driver hiring preferences of both plans;
3. The motor carrier financial capability requirements of both plans;
4. The driver health insurance mandate of the Long Beach plan;
5. The designated routes and parking restrictions of both plans;
6. The contractual tie-in of the clean truck tariffs mandated by both plans; and
7. The concession application and per-truck annual and fees of both plans.
Although ATA has repeatedly said it supports the Clean Truck Program's retirement of older dirty diesel trucks from the ports along with the container fee that assists in the transition, proponents of the plan attacked the group. Sierra Club's Harbor Vision Task Force co-chair Tom Politeo said ATA "proved they would rather sign a blank check to litigate against life-saving programs than help pay the cost to clean up the deadly pollution their businesses create.
"Taxpayers, workers and residents deserve a strong port program that requires stable, well-capitalized companies to take full responsibility for fleet replacement and proper maintenance of a new generation of low-emission and alt-fuel vehicles," Politeo said. "Clean-air goals cannot possibly be met by independent low-wage drivers who average $11 an hour."