Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Supreme Court Partially Overturns Port of LA Truck Regs

The US Supreme Court has ruled that two components of the Port of Los Angeles’ anti-smog Clean Truck Program are to be overturned because they violate federal law.

Specifically, the court was unanimous in striking down the sections of the ports’ regulations requiring trucking firms to create plans for off-street parking and to post placards on drayage trucks with a phone number people could call to report safety or pollution concerns.

In its decision, written by Justice Elena Kagan, the Court cites the Federal Aviation Administration Authorization Act, which states that the enforcement of any state or local “law, regulation, or other provision having the force and effect of law related to a price, route, or service of any motor carrier,” is prohibited.

The Court concluded that the overturned elements fell within the scope of the FAAAA’s preemption provision.

The Clean Truck Program was devised by the port in 2007 in response to the then-growing problem of air pollution caused by older, pollution spewing drayage trucks hauling goods to and from Los Angeles and the adjoining Port of Long Beach. The major components of the anti-pollution program were left untouched by the Supreme Court, including a ban on older, more polluting trucks from the port.

In 2008, the American Trucking Associations sued the City of Los Angeles to try having elements of the program overturned. After the Supreme Court’s 9-0 ruling, the ATA issued a statement hailing the decision.

“We are gratified that, at the conclusion of many years of litigation, the highest court in the land unanimously agreed with ATA on these rules,” ATA President and CEO Bill Graves said in the statement. “Our position has always been that the port’s attempt to regulate drayage operators – in ways that had nothing to do with its efforts to improve air quality at the port – was inconsistent with Congress’ command that the trucking industry be shaped by market forces, rather than an incompatible patchwork of state and local regulations.”

The City of Los Angeles also issued a response to the ruling, saying it was “reviewing the Supreme Court’s decision,” but intends to continue its anti-pollution efforts “to the extent the law allows.”

The Supreme Court’s decision can be read in full at http://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/12pdf/11-798_anbf.pdf.