FMCSA rejects New Jersey Motor Truck Association’s sticker request

| 9/6/2011

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has ruled that the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey may require stickers for trucks registered to service the ports – as long as the program is voluntary.

Last year, the Port Authority of New York/New Jersey unveiled its clean truck program, which eventually will require all trucks visiting the ports to meet 2007 model year engine emissions standards.

In written comments to FMCSA this past December, the New Jersey Motor Truck Association opposed the port authority’s creation of a sticker program for trucks entering the ports. The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association issued comments in support of the NJMTA.

In its ruling, FMCSA cited section 31704 of the International Registration Plan that says a state can continue to display credentials required “under a State law regarding motor vehicle license plates or other displays that the Secretary determines are appropriate.”

“It’s baffling,” said Gail Toth, executive director of the New Jersey Motor Truck Association, which had petitioned FMCSA to stop the NY/NJ sticker requirement, citing a federal law that prohibits states from such requirements.

“Voluntary or not voluntary – they shouldn’t be telling us to put stickers on our trucks,” Toth told Land Line Magazine.

Under an original proposal that trucks have stickers showing their compliance with the emissions standards, NJMTA had asked FMCSA to determine whether port authorities have the power to require stickers. In the meantime, Toth said, the Port Authority of New York/New Jersey changed the sticker program to a voluntary one.

FMCSA ruled that because it’s voluntary, it’s enforceable, she said.

“They didn’t get to the heart of the issue. They really missed the point,” Toth said. “The point we were trying to get at is, ‘does the port authority have the right to tell people to put stickers on their truck based on the age of their trucks,’ and it wasn’t answered.

“This is a major shift if you ask me,” Toth said. “Who else is going to come up with a sticker program now?

Toth said trucking companies have been bombarded with over-regulation by agencies at all levels in recent years. Add in port authorities that previously had no regulation power, she said, and over-regulation gets out of control.

“They’re making compliance enormously expensive,” Toth said. “They’re changing the whole model for business in the trucking industry. These rules and regulations are coming fast and furious. At the end of the day, this is not about emissions.”

Joe Rajkovacz, OOIDA director of regulatory affairs, said FMCSA appears to have missed the main point of the sticker requirement – specifically that the sticker is a requirement.

“FMCSA focused on the voluntary aspect of the required credential,” Rajkovacz said. “The agency even stepped into defending the voluntary nature of the sticker as preferable to queuing in long lines waiting for manual verification of compliance with port emissions based tariffs – which would seemingly underscore the point that the PANYNJ requirement is not so voluntary.  This determination is curiously inconsistent with previous agency decisions regarding unique credentialing requirements of other jurisdictions.”

OOIDA issued comments supporting the NJMTA’s petition, saying OOIDA doesn’t “believe that the Port Authority’s requirement is voluntary because trucks that opt out would be subject to additional delays in the port.”