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Ruling allows Clean Trucks Program to resume; measure intended to lower air pollution around Los Angeles

September 3rd, 2010  |  Lucas Otto

A ruling by U.S. District Court Judge Christina Snyder that the Port of Los Angeles can regulate trucks coming into or leaving its property in order to decrease air pollution around the country’s busiest port complex is being hailed by supporters of the Clean Trucks Program.

In 2008, Los Angeles officials attempted to regulate the pollution caused by trucks hauling goods into and out of the Port by enacting the Clean Trucks Program. That measure required drivers to be actual employees, not independent contractors, of a trucking company. Program proponents say the bill is necessary to reduce the amount of pollution emitted by the port, specifically the amount of diesel particulate, which has been linked to a number of serious health issues, and claim that measures requiring the use of clean diesel and low sulfur fuels will assist with that goal. Advocates of the City’s solution claim that the low wages traditionally paid to the trucking workforce results in a workforce that “can only afford to haul in the oldest, most decrepit clunkers,” according to the Coalition for Clean and Safe Ports.

In the early days of the program, officials claimed a near 80 percent reduction in emissions, but after the American Trucking Associations (ATA) filed suit to stop the Program, the issue became a hot-button topic in California and in the US House, which held hearings on the issue in May. Opposition by the trucking industry created Congressional support for HR 5957, which was intended to clarify federal transportation law and allow local governments to implement solutions that will protect the public health, while also spurring green job creation

Members of the Coalition were thrilled with Snyder’s ruling. “This victory bolsters the standing of burgeoning clean port programs across the nation,” said Melissa Lin Perrella, senior attorney with NRDC’s Southern California Air Program, which argued alongside the Port at trial. “This decision allows the Port of Los Angeles to continue introducing cleaner trucks while getting dirty ones off the road and sets the stage for healthier communities nationwide.”

“Judge Snyder’s ruling affirms that the Los Angeles Harbor Commission, City Council, and Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa got it right from the beginning in enacting an economically sound, environmentally sustainable program to reduce deadly diesel truck pollution and create good green jobs in our communities,” said Tom Politeo, a San Pedro resident and representative of the Sierra Club, also party to the case along with the Coalition for Clean Air.