Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Congress Panels Calls for Deeper Look Into LA Port Truck Plan

Members of a Congressional panel looking into the impacts of the Southern California ports' Clean Truck programs said last week that calls by the Port of Los Angeles and other allies to change federal interstate commerce laws trucking deregulation laws require further investigation.

John Holmes, the deputy executive director of the Port of Los Angeles, told members of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee that the port's truck program – originally designed to replace thousands of older trucks with less polluting newer models – would not be able to function into the future without changes to federal law allowing the port to set regulations over trucks. These powers are now reserved solely to federal government under the Federal Aviation Administration Act of 1994, or F4A.

Holmes’ position – that the port's clean truck program requires a labor requirement that trucking firms only use employees – did not sit well with members of the committee on either side of the aisle.

Ranking minority member of the subcommittee, Rep. John Duncan Jr. called the port's attempt to regulate trucking companies a "solution in search of a problem."

Subcommittee chairman Rep. Peter DeFazio called the current trucking system "incredibly inefficient,” and said whether one disagrees "with the way the Port of Los Angeles wants to make it more rational...the point is the system has to get better."

House Transportation and Infrastructure chairman Rep. James Oberstar also questioned the port's logic, saying he did not understand how a "labor structure is essential to a clean truck program."

Pointing to what he called numerous "troubling contradictions" in the testimonies, DeFazio recommended that congressional staffers investigate the labor and F4A issue more in depth.

"I really believe this is not the last time this committee is going to be dealing with this issue," he added.