Ports authority over trucking operators examined

The American Trucking Associations has finished filing appeal briefs against the Port of Los Angeles and in a separate case, filed a brief supporting the Port of Long Beach.

Meanwhile, Congress is considering the Clean Ports Act bill for the second consecutive year.

On Feb. 14, the ATA concluded filing briefs in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. The lower court erred in upholding Los Angeles port’s concession agreement, which includes a phased-in ban of owner-operators, the association stated. Carriers must adhere to the agreement to regularly serve the port, but it is enjoined from implementing the progressive owner-operator ban pending the appeal.

The defendants rejected the association’s position that the port is acting as a governmental regulator, rather than as a commercial enterprise.

The association also filed a Feb.11 brief in support of the Port of Long Beach in a separate case in California’s Central District court. The Natural Resources Defense Council and the Sierra Club allege port officials violated state and municipal law in its implementation and operation of a settlement agreement with the ATA, rather than using its original concession agreement.

Long Beach, Los Angeles’ sister port, reached the 2009 agreement in settling the suit brought by the ATA. It did not bar owner-operators and reached its environmental goals two years ahead of schedule with its clean truck plan.

The Long Beach port filed a Feb. 14 brief in the litigation with the environmental groups, which has a March 14 hearing. “It is burlesque to demand that the board (of Long Beach harbor commissioners) conduct an environmental review to measure the settlement agreement against the revitalized and jeopardized concession agreement that wasn’t, and might never be,” it stated.

Ports nationwide have expressed interest in implementing the Los Angeles port’s clean truck plan. On Feb. 9, U.S. Rep. Jerrod Nadler (D-N.Y.) introduced the Clean Ports Act, which was referred to committee that day with 52 co-sponsors.

The New York Democrat sponsored the same bill last year. This year’s bill, H.R. 572, would permit ports new authority over trucking if the requirements “are reasonably related to,” reducing pollution or congestion, improving highway safety or “efficient utilization of port facilities,”… if the requirements comply with other applicable federal law or regulations.

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