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Trade Organizations Speak Out Against Ports' Regulatory Efforts

February 8, 2010

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In a letter to Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, the National Retail Federation, writing on behalf of several trade organizations, urged the DOT to oppose the efforts of some ports to regulate the trucking industry.
Several industry groups are taking action against the ports' efforts to regulate trucking operations. (Photo courtesy of the Port of Los Angeles)
Several industry groups are taking action against the ports' efforts to regulate trucking operations. (Photo courtesy of the Port of Los Angeles)


The group is referring to the efforts of some ports, including the Port of Los Angeles, to get Congress to change the Federal Aviation Administration Authorization Act (FAAAA), which prohibits states from enacting and enforcing laws that are "related to" motor carrier prices, routes, or services in order to maximize competitive forces in the trucking industry. These ports wish to have the authority to regulate trucking operations at the ports, such as security, congestion and the environment. The letter says the ports are using their Clean Truck Programs as a guise to make this regulatory change.

"While we strongly support efforts to improve air quality and port security in and around America's ports, the effort to undermine federal preemption of interstate commerce is an attempt to overturn losses in the federal courts restricting local regulation of truck drayage services," the letter said. "If successful, these efforts will not improve air quality or port security in and around the nation's ports, but will re-impose a fragmented, local, patchwork regulatory structure on foreign and interstate commerce, contrary to the U.S. Constitution and acts of Congress."

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The National Retail Federation writes the letter on behalf of members of several national associations that haul goods through these ports, including the Clean Truck Coalition, Los Angeles Customs Brokers & Freight Forwarders Association, the Waterfront Coalition and the Harbor Truckers for Sustainable Future LA/LB Port, just to name a few.

The letter outlines the history of this conflict at the ports, including the success of the Clean Truck Programs at the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach and the American Association of Port Authorities' recent move to opt out of the ports' efforts to regulate truck drayage operations.

The National Retail Federation also mentions the Port of Los Angeles' provision to ban harbor trucking companies from using independent owner-operators, a move that is mostly advocated by the Teamsters union, the letter said. The letter also goes into the lawsuit filed by the American Trucking Associations against the Port of Los Angeles regarding the owner-operator ban.

"The argument that port trucking services should not be subject to federal preemption in order to improve air quality is fallacious, and is based on motives unrelated to achieving cleaner air around the ports," the letter said.

CORRECTION: We originally reported, incorrectly, that the Port of Long Beach was part of the effort to get the FAAAA changed. The Port of Long Beach is not lobbying to change this legislation.

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