The Clean Trucks Programs at the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach has accomplished impressive results, reducing truck pollution by 80 percent almost 3 years ahead of schedule. The industry-supported program reduces truck pollution through the retirement of older, more polluting diesel engines. Since 2008, drayage companies at the ports have purchased more than 6,500 clean trucks to haul freight from the ports, with the majority of new trucks financed through private investment, not port subsidy programs.
In fact, the trucking industry has spent approximately $600million to finance clean truck purchases, over 10times more than the Port of Los Angeles has to date redistributed to the program from its container fee collections. Even though the "retired trucks" are permitted to operate everywhere else in the country, the trucking industry has supported their early retirement at the ports, underscoring our commitment to improving air quality in the maritime transportation-container trades sector.
Contrary to what opponents of the trucking industry state, ATA's litigation against the Port of Los Angeles has no impact on the environmental portions of the Clean Trucks Plan. ATA's litigation focuses only on "concession requirements" that the Port of Los Angeles attempted to implement as part of the clean trucks program, such as banning owner operators and other requirements unrelated to the environment and safety. The Teamsters Union and the Natural Resources Defense Counsel (NRDC) falsely allege that environmental improvements from the clean trucks program are threatened because of the employment status of truck drivers. In addition, the groups also falsely claim that ports do not have proper authority to improve air quality under federal transportation law, a point that is rebuked by the significant environmental improvements from the program.
Independent owner-operators are independent businessmen and women who drive a truck that they own or lease. This segment of the industry has hauled the lion's share of freight from the Port of Los Angeles for decades. The Teamsters want to ban owner-operators from the port to make it possible to unionize all port truck drivers, since owner-operators are independent contractors and cannot join a union.
The U.S. Court of Appeals ruled in 2009 that banning owner-operators from ports likely violates federal law. The Court of Appeals also rejected the claim from the Port of Los Angeles, the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and several other groups that a ban on owner-operators was needed to help the port achieve its environmental and safety goals. The Appeals court belittled the Port of LA's position, noting it "see[s] little safety-related merit in those thread-paper arguments, which denigrate small businesses and insist that individuals should work for large employers or not at all."
The Port of Los Angeles and the Teamsters are asking Congress to change federal transportation law to allow local governments to ban owner-operators. The groups hope to change the motor carrier statute enacted in the Federal Aviation Administration Authorization Act (FAAAA) of 1994, which protects the trucking industry and interstate commerce from a patchwork of local regulations affecting the price, route, or service of motor carriers.
In a May 5 Congressional hearing on the matter, ATA defended current federal transportation law. Achange to the FAAAA is nothing more than a solution in search of a problem. Under current law, trucking companies and independent owner-operators are reducing truck emissions at ports across the country. Trucking companies and owner-operators are able to meet the demands of Clean Trucks Programs in today's economic environment, and there is no reason to believe they will not in the future.
For more information Read ATA's April 23 press release Teamsters Mislead Press on Effects of Port of Los Angeles Lawsuit.