By Charlie Morasch, Land Line contributing writer | Monday, January 14, 2013
The highest court in the United States will help decide whether cities and ports can ban trucks that don’t meet city-imposed emissions requirements.
On Friday, Jan. 11, the U.S. Supreme Court issued an order announcing it will hear arguments concerning the legality of truck requirements adopted and enforced at the Port of Los Angeles.
The case could have long-term consequences for truck drivers who occasionally haul port freight – particularly as major ports throughout the U.S. eye emissions requirements.
In 2008, the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach each approved Clean Truck Programs that banned pre-1989 trucks from entering their ports in 2009. In January 2010, trucks with 1993 model year engines and older were banned. Since 2012, only trucks meeting 2007 model year diesel engine emissions standards have been allowed onto the ports.
The Port of Los Angeles’ program included specific bans of drivers who weren’t company employees, and included expensive taxi-style “concessionaire” fees, prompting a July 2008 lawsuit by the American Trucking Associations to overturn several portions of the program. The lawsuit has bounced between U.S. District Court in Los Angeles, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, and the U.S. Court of Appeals.
In 2011, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled the port can require trucking companies to submit off-site parking plans, and display placards and other requirements.
ATA President Bill Graves applauded the Supreme Court’s decision to hear the case.
“The Port’s rules challenged by ATA, which range from a requirement that carriers display Port-mandated information on the sides of trucks entering and leaving the port, to a requirement that trucks conform to the Port’s off-street parking rules even when not on port property, have nothing to do with improving air quality,” Graves said in a statement. “We are pleased the Supreme Court will review the erroneous decision of the appellate court.”
The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association has filed as an intervener in the lawsuit.
According to the Supreme Court’s website, a date for oral arguments has not been set.
The Supreme Court will hear arguments concerning whether municipal governments may conflict with federally protected preemption of state and local laws. The court’s announcement also said it will examine whether a required concession program imposes requirements “related to a price, route, or service of any motor carrier,” and whether permitting a municipal government entity to bar federally licensed motor carriers from a port operates as a partial suspension of the motor carriers’ federal registration.
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