Court Sets New Clean-Truck Arguments

Court Sets New Clean-Truck Arguments

Lawyers representing the American Trucking Associations and the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach on April 27 will present oral arguments in the ports’ clean-truck case.

U.S. District Court Judge Christina Snyder in Los Angeles will determine if the ATA’s request for a preliminary injunction blocking implementation of the clean-truck concession requirements should be granted.

The 9th Circuit court on March 20 stated that Judge Snyder last fall erred in denying a preliminary injunction based on arguments involving truck safety and port security. The appellate court instructed the district court to review the concession requirements and determine if the concession agreements in their entirety should be enjoined, or whether certain “egregious elements” should be blocked.

Specifically, the 9th Circuit indicated that the requirement in the Port of Los Angeles concession agreement mandating that harbor trucking companies phase employee drivers into their fleets appeared to violate federal law. The employee driver mandate would make it easier for unions such as the Teamsters to organize harbor truck drivers.

The 9th Circuit instructed Judge Snyder to move expeditiously, and she appears to be doing that. Both sides will file written briefs in the coming few weeks. Judge Snyder will review the written arguments and could be prepared to issue her order after hearing oral arguments on April 27.

Meanwhile, the environmental elements of the Los Angeles-Long Beach clean-truck plan continue to be implemented. Pre-1989 trucks were banned from the harbor on Oct. 1, 2008, and the industry is preparing to replace pre-1994 trucks and retrofit pre-2004 trucks by the end of this year.

In a related development, the Federal Maritime Commission, which is suing the ports in the U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., over other elements of the clean-truck plan, determined at the weekend that it will cite the 9th Circuit’s ruling in its case. The ports requested that the 9th Circuit’s comments not be included in the FMC’s case.

The commission is challenging the clean-truck plan’s truck fees, and exemptions from those fees, in its case before the Washington district court.