Industry groups hit ports’ truck plan

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Two California shipping and freight industry groups reportedly have asked the Federal Maritime Commission to investigate the state’s proposed Clean Truck Program, alleging the plan will cause “immediate economic harm” and violates anti-competition laws between the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach.

Even though the $1.8 billion clean air plan has yet to see the light of day, the Pacific Merchant Shipping Association and the National Industrial Transportation League alleged Wednesday, Sept. 26, that the port proposal breaches portions of the federal Shipping Act, the Torrence (Calif.) Daily Breeze reported.

“There is no question that cleaner air is in everyone’s interest and a goal we fully support,” said John Ficker, president of the National Industrial Transportation League, which represents more than 700 transportation firms. “However, the ports’ plan will not accomplish this and is in reality a program designed to serve special interests, not the environment,” Ficker told the newspaper.

According to the Daily Breeze, part of the program would require all truck drivers to work for trucking companies rather than function as independent contractors. The agencies called that idea “unreasonable” because the requirement has nothing to do with the program’s environmental goals, the newspaper reported; the groups also allege that the Clean Truck Program would increase costs for port hauling services because several companies would be driven out of the market.

Officials with the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach have said the program is aimed at reducing diesel truck emissions by 80 percent by replacing older rigs with newer, cleaner-burning trucks. According to the Daily Breeze, Geraldine Knatz, executive director of the Port of Los Angeles, and Richard Steinke, executive director of the Port of Long Beach, responded to the allegations in a joint letter issued Thursday, Sept. 27, to the Federal Maritime Commission.

Knatz and Steinke argued that the allegations were premature, noting that final details of the Clean Truck Program still are being hammered out, the newspaper reported. “Until the final elements of the Clean Truck Program have been decided upon by the commissioners of the two ports, we cannot address with precision the local, state and federal regulatory implications of the Clean Truck Program,” they wrote.

“PMSA and the NIT League appear to be eager to litigate by correspondence to an abstraction,” they wrote. “Given the complexity of the issues