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Supreme Court to hear ATA port concession plan decision

In the opening brief, ATA stated that most of the concession plans’ requirements do not affect safety and the few elements that do repeat the requirements of federal and state laws.

The Trucker News Services

1/11/2013

ARLINGTON, Va. — The American Trucking Associations said late Friday that it has learned the United States Supreme Court has agreed to hear a lower court decision that requires trucks entering the Port of Los Angeles to comply with basic environmental, safety and security requirements.

The Port of LA’s clean air program would ensure cleaner air for the communities in and around the port through straightforward fixes such as improved truck maintenance and off-street parking requirements, according to a National Resources Defense Council statement.

“As always, ATA supports the environmental provisions of the clean trucks plan, but not the non-environmental portions of the plan,” Sean McNally, vice president of communications and press secretary at ATA said in an e-mail statement.

A brief the ATA filed in 2008 said the association believed the concession plans unlawfully re-regulate the port trucking industry to the detriment of motor carriers, shippers, businesses and consumers that depend on the products that are handled at those ports.

The ATA said United States District Court Judge Christina A. Snyder earlier ruled that the concession plans fell within the scope of what would ordinarily be pre-empted, but an express exception to pre-emption, the safety exception, protected the plans from pre-emption despite their interference with motor carriers’ rates, routes and services.

In the opening brief, ATA stated that most of the concession plans’ requirements do not affect safety and the few elements that do repeat the requirements of federal and state laws.  ATA also argued that because the concession plans essentially re-regulate interstate trucking, they must be overturned even if some minor elements relate to truck safety.

Additionally, ATA contended that the court erred in its previous finding that motor carriers could avoid irreparable harm by succumbing to the illegal concession plans and seeking damages later.  ATA explained that securing individual damages would be difficult if not impossible, and that forcing motor carriers to either accept the illegal terms of the concession plans or stop doing business in the ports was itself irreparable harm.

“ATA supports the ports’ clean truck program and the replacement of older trucks, but does not support the concession plans’ illegal re-regulation of the trucking industry,” the brief said.

“This continues to be a hard-fought battle against an industry clinging to its polluting practices,” said Melissa Lin Perrella, senior attorney with NRDC. “The clean truck program at the Port of LA has dramatically reduced harmful air pollution from port trucking, but it won’t stay that way unless trucking companies step up and shoulder the necessary costs of upkeep and care. The port’s clean truck program requires just that.”

The Trucker staff can be reached to comment on this article at editor@thetrucker.com.

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