Environmental groups are suing the Port of Long Beach and the American Trucking Associations, asking that an agreement the two reached to settle an ATA suit against the port should be thrown out.
Environmental groups say a deal between Long Beach and American Trucking Associations is not legally valid.
Environmental groups say a deal between Long Beach and American Trucking Associations is not legally valid.

In October, ATA and the Port of Long Beach announced a settlement that would end the ATA's legal challenge of the port's Clean Trucks Program.
The settlement is based upon a motor carrier registration process, referred to as a Registration and Agreement, which will replace the Port's Concession Agreement, which ATA had challenged in its lawsuit.

The Natural Resources Defense Council and the Sierra Club say Long Beach violated city and state law when it reached that settlement without first seeking public comment and an environmental review.

Calling it a "backroom deal" that leaves the Long Beach Clean Truck Program in the hands of polluting industry, NRDC and the Sierra Club say the agreement, entered into on October 19, 2009, violates Long Beach Municipal Code and state law, which require public involvement and an environmental review. The NRDC lawsuit calls for a legally required state environmental study of the agreement that includes public comment before it can move forward.

"You can't cut the public out of the conversation when you're talking about the air they breathe and the health consequences they face," said David Pettit, director of NRDC's Southern California Clean Air Program. "This deal puts the wolf in charge of the henhouse -- with a likely result of dirtier air for local communities. Industry cannot be allowed to dictate clean air efforts and rollback the Port's clean air advancements."

ATA officials Monday said while they could not comment on the NRDC's lawsuit itself, which they had not seen, the legal issues the NRDC raises in their press release have already been considered and rejected as baseless by the City of Long Beach.

"The press release also contains many inaccuracies that denigrate the Port's highly successful Clean Truck Program," said Clayton Boyce, ATA's Press Secretary and Vice President for Public Affairs.

The settlement agreement between the ATA and Long Beach did not make any change that would reduce, let alone reverse, the Port's progress in cleaning the air, Boyce said. "What is cleaning the air is the progressive banning of older trucks. The settlement agreement with the ATA gives the Port of Long Beach everything it needs, and everything it wanted, to continue banning older trucks. The port has the control." If the truck does not meet the requirements, the Port of Long Beach will not let it in the gate, Boyce said.

(For more on the Port of Long Beach Clean Trucks Program, see the POLB web site.)