L.A. port: Judge leaves heart of Clean Truck Program in place

user-gravatar Headshot

A ruling by U.S. District Court Judge Christina Snyder leaves in place the centerpiece of the Clean Truck Program, allowing the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach to ban dirty diesel trucks and clean up air pollution from the surrounding port communities while putting on hold disputed sections of the program, the L.A. port announced Wednesday, April 29. Judge Snyder set the full trial date for Dec. 15.

Wednesday’s preliminary ruling allows the California ports to continue to ban dirty diesel trucks and collect fees from cargo owners to raise funds to help finance the replacement of the older trucks servicing the port. The ruling, however, temporarily put on hold disputed sections of the program, including the collection of truck concession program fees, concessionaire financial capability requirements, preferential hiring consideration of the First Source application list, offstreet parking requirements and a requirement that carriers gradually transition to using employee drivers at Los Angeles cargo terminals.

“We are pleased that the heart of the Clean Truck Program is in place, and we’re moving full steam ahead with removing dirty diesel trucks from our communities and harmful pollutants from our air,” said Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. “We look forward to our day in court where we will show the overwhelmingly success of the entire program and why it is needed to ensure long-term success.”

Enjoining the concessions came after a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth District unanimously ruled in favor of the American Trucking Associations on March 20 and remanded the case to the U.S. District Court, indicating that the judge should grant ATA an injunction against all or part of the concession plans that were tied to the CTP, part of a massive five-year Clean Air Action Plan to reduce port truck emissions at the San Pedro Bay ports by 80 percent and emissions from all sources by 45 percent.

“We welcome Judge Snyder’s final decision,” said Curtis Whalen, executive director of ATA’s Intermodal Motor Carrier Conference.

Beginning Oct. 1, 2008, the ports banned the most polluting trucks – 1988 and older vehicles – the initial ban in a series planned under the CTP. On Jan. 1, 2010, the ports will ban 1993 and older trucks, and unretrofitted model year 1994 to 2003 trucks. By January 2012, all vehicles 2006 and older will be banned.

As of Oct. 1, 2008, any motor carrier out of compliance with a port’s concession agreement had been barred from entering that port, a situation ATA argued has caused motor carriers to suffer both short- and long-term capital losses and injuries to business goodwill. The appeals court’s instructions to the federal district court had made clear that many elements of the concession plans were to be enjoined, but left it to the federal district court as to whether the entire concession plans should be halted. ATA had not challenged the ports’ CTP.

“We are committed to implementing the most sustainable program possible,” said Geraldine Knatz, executive director of the L.A. port. “Our complete program has already cut truck pollution drastically, and it ensures that today’s clean trucks will be replaced by even cleaner trucks in years to come. We will make that case in trial later this year.”