Thursday, October 15, 2009

SoCal Ports' Legal Fees Mount in Truck Plan Defense

The Southern California ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles have spent nearly $10 million to defend legal action since 2007 against their jointly created Clean Truck Program.

The Port of Long Beach has paid out $2 million in legal fees to defend the CTP, and the two adjacent ports have split another $7.5 million in additional legal expenses.

The legal fees have arisen from two lawsuits, one filed by the American Trucking Associations against the ports' truck program in late 2008, and another brought against the ports by the Federal Maritime Commission. The ATA suit has been particularly lengthy and complicated, with three rounds of appearances in both Superior Court and the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals over an injunction request against the program by the trucking group and other plaintiffs. The ATA eventually prevailed in most aspects of its case for an injunction against certain parts of the truck program. The ATA’s full suit against the ports begins in December. Earlier this year, and following the ATA prevailing at the Appeals Court level, the FMC dropped its case against the ports.

The truck program, which originally would have seen the ports pay to replace nearly 17,000 drayage trucks servicing the ports with cleaner burning models, was created in an effort to slash port-generated diesel emissions. The plan eventually evolved into a concessionaire and truck ban program paid for by a container tax, state and federal funds, and investment from the truckers themselves.

As implemented a year ago, the program requires truck operators to obtain port access licenses. It also banned all pre-1989 trucks from the ports and on Jan. 1, 2010 will expand the ban to include all trucks that do not meet 2004 model year engine criteria and newer emission standards or that are not equipped with verified emission control devices.