Environmental groups sue maritime commission about L.A. port issue

By Charlie Morasch, Land Line staff writer | Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Three environmental groups have sued the Federal Maritime Commission regarding its efforts to block new licensing requirements at the twin ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach.

The Natural Resources Defense Council, Sierra Club and the Coalition for Clean Air filed a lawsuit in federal court on Monday, Nov. 10, alleging that the Maritime Commission violated environmental laws during its October attempt to block the Clean Trucks Programs at the two ports. The groups say the Maritime Commission “failed to consider the public health and environmental damage that would result from its intervention, thereby violating several bedrock environmental laws.”

“The commission is standing in the way of public health,” Melissa Lin Perrella, staff attorney with the Natural Resources Defense Council, said in a statement. “In seeking an injunction, the commission willfully ignored relevant public health information and denied requests for a public hearing.”

The twin ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach each have approved similar versions of a Clean Trucks Program, including bans on pre-1989 trucks that took effect on Oct. 1, and the phase in of bans on other older truck engines until all trucks are required to meet 2007 emissions standards by 2012.

Each port is requiring most drayage trucks to register and become licensed concessionaires for repeated port entry. The ports also are requiring drivers to show they’ve at least applied for enrollment into the Transportation Worker Identification Credential program.

The Maritime Commission – which has certain authority to protect the free flow of U.S. commerce – has launched two investigations into the legalities of the ports’ Clean Trucks Programs. In October, the commission tried to block the ports from requiring cargo haulers from being company employees.

Both ports have said they’ll allow long-haulers to make 12 visits to the ports per year, though permits cost $100.

OOIDA officials have said they’ll continue to discuss their views with port leaders, including the Association’s concerns that the $100 price is too high.

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