An appeals court this week denied the American Trucking Associations' move to halt the Clean Truck programs of the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach. The ports announced they will be going ahead with the program as scheduled,
despite the Federal Maritime Commission concerns about the programs' legality.

Beginning Oct. 1, only motor carriers with port-issued concession agreements can serve the harbor, as the first step in a plan that also will phase out older, higher-polluting trucks, starting with prohibiting pre-1989 trucks in the ports beginning Oct. 1.

While the two ports' plans differ somewhat, both will limit access to the ports to only those trucking companies that have entered into concession contracts approved by the port program administrator. The ports will now be able to hold those companies accountable for maintaining trucks and employing properly credentialed drivers. That, in turn, will ensure a sufficient supply of drivers, improve truck safety and maintenance while lowering emissions, enhance port security and reduce the negative impacts that drayage services have on communities near the port, according to port officials.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Wednesday denied a request from ATA for a preliminary injunction to block the concession requirements in the clean-trucks programs. The court will hear arguments from both sides next month, but refused to stop the program from going forward in the meantime. The court also denied the ATA's motion to expedite its appeal. As a result, it appears unlikely that the ATA's appeal will be decided until after completion of a full briefing and argument in 2009, according to port officials.

Earlier this month, the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California upheld the ports' plans. The judge said that even though it looked like ATA had a valid argument in its claims that the plan breaks federal laws prohibiting interference in interstate commerce, that the security aspects of the ports' plans would exempt it from that law.

According to published reports, The Federal Maritime Commission is urging port authorities to delay the Oct. 1 implementation of the program because it wants to take a closer look at several aspects of the plan that could violate the Shipping Act. The Shipping Act prohibits ports from giving "unreasonable preferences or imposing any undue or unreasonable prejudice or disadvantage."

Both ports, however, issued statements saying they will continue with the program starting Oct. 1. They say they are reviewing the Order of Investigation issued by the Federal Maritime Commission, but "while we appreciate that large-scale environmental improvement projects such as the Clean Trucks Programs are unprecedented in the experience of the Federal Maritime Commission, we believe that the practices that the Commission proposes to investigate are essential to the health, security and safety of the Ports, and those who work and live near the Ports. We are certain that these safety and security practices will be found reasonable and lawful under the Shipping Act of 1984."