Ports say FMC stalling Clean Trucks Program

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The Port of Los Angeles and the Port of Long Beach said Thursday, Dec. 18, that the Federal Maritime Commission is purporting to delay the effectiveness of an agreement filed with the FMC between the ports and their marine terminal operator tenants to collect fees under the ports’ Clean Trucks Program.

“This ruling by just two of three FMC commissioners — made again behind closed doors — is a misuse of the FMC’s administrative process to stop the implementation of our Clean Trucks Program,” says Port of Los Angeles Executive Director Geraldine Knatz. “The FMC is attempting to take the decision regarding their legal challenges away from the courts by administratively imposing what is, in effect, its own injunction to stop our Clean Trucks Program. Despite providing extensive information to the FMC — and requesting that they provide a specific analysis of their concerns about our program — our efforts have not been reciprocated constructively by the FMC, which seems to prefer litigation to communication.”

FMC Commissioners Harold Creel and Rebecca Dye commented Wednesday, Dec. 17, that, given the significant changes in the nation’s economic situation, the commission must continue to fulfill its statutory obligations to ensure that the agreement will not unreasonably reduce competition in the ports. Such reduction would raise prices at a time when the American consumer can least afford any added costs, and at a time when owner-operators can least afford to be driven out of the port drayage market, Creel and Dye commented.

According to the ports, in three situations where FMC has acted to delay implementation of environmental reforms in the ports, it has waited until the last minute of the 45-day review period, and has asked for information that could have just as well been requested at any time before or during the review period. Presently, only three commissioners are on the five-person board.

“With these stalling tactics, the FMC continues to undermine a program that’s critical to reducing port truck pollution by 80 percent while ensuring the highest level of safety and security in port cargo terminals accessed by thousands of trucks on a daily basis,” Knatz says. “The FMC’s actions are financially hampering our ability to help truck operators upgrade to new trucks and reach our clean air goals in a region that falls short of the federal government’s acceptable emissions standards.”

FMC on Oct. 29 determined by a 2-1 vote that implementation of certain portions of the CTP by the ports are likely, by a reduction in competition, to produce an unreasonable increase in transportation cost or unreasonable reduction in service. The commission authorized staff to file a complaint with the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia pursuant to section 6(h) of the Shipping Act of 1984, to enjoin aspects of FMC Agreement No. 201170, including concession requirements that mandate exclusive use of employee drivers.