Clean Trucks or Dirty Tricks?

The Agricultural Transportation Coalition, the Association of the California Recycling Industry(ACRI), the California Trucking Association(CTA), the National Industrial Transportation League (NIT), and the Pacific Coast Council of Customs Brokers & Freight Forwarders (PCC) have all expressed their opposition to the short-haul truck overhaul plan proposed by the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, and both the CTA and the PCC have mentioned possible litigation if the plan is put into effect.

“We believe that the proposed economic regulation would be a local restriction on U.S. international trade, very possibly in violation of the Export Clause of the United States Constitution,” the PCC letter said.

The plan in question, a five-year $ 1.8 billion Clean Trucks Plan, proposed in an effort to reduce harmful emissions from short-haul trucks serving the two ports, has received support from labor and environmental groups, but legal issues recounted by the CTA and PCC have brought about a deferment of the vote for several more weeks.

In a letter to both port directors, Peter Gatti, the NIT League’s executive vice president, wrote: “While the league is in support of the plan’s stated goals and objectives of fostering a clean environment, we believe that it will unnecessarily increase costs, reduce competition, threaten vital operating capacity, and most importantly, will have a minimal effect toward improving the environment.”

His organization, Mr. Gatti pointed out, is particularly concerned about the driver employment requirement because it would have a “negative impact on small and medium size companies currently performing services at the port, and could drive a number of such companies out of business.”

Mr. Gatti also complained that the Clean Trucks Plan proposed by the San Pedro Bay ports was developed without industry input and without a thorough analysis of its impact. “It is critical that a comprehensive analysis of the economic impact of the Clean Air Action Plan be conducted before additional, and potentially unnecessary, costs are imposed on the industry,” he said.

This is just another example of a backyard brawl spawned by greedy port officials. Instead of being satisfied with a reasonable share of the pie, those officials grab for everything within reach. For years they’ve shown a callous disregard for the health problems caused by excessive emissions of diesel and bunker fuel pollutants, and they’ve succeeded so far in shifting the responsibility, and costs, to the down-trodden truckers. This time, however, they’re meeting with some solid opposition. Flush with success because their clever PierPass initiative shifted the cost of night-time operations to the trucking community, those officials feel that they can go to the well again.

They’re in for trouble this time. Fran Inman would call this a “tipping point”.