Driving Towards Anarchy, or Be Careful What You Ask The Court For.

After the Ninth Circuit's recent decision in the lawsuit brought by the American Trucking Association ("ATA") against the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, District Court Judge Snyder asked the parties to file additional briefs for an April 27, 2009 hearing in her court on what to do next.  ATA has taken a position that may lead to anarchy and disruption of cargo movement at the ports or, if not that, a system where its poorer members will be driven out of business. 

The ATA has unequivocally asked Judge Snyder to enjoin both Ports' trucking concession plans.  As I've discussed before, this will kill the Ports' clean trucks plan because, without the funding mechanism provided by the concession plans, there is no way to replace in time the 7,500 pre-1994 trucks that will be banned by the Ports and by the California Air Resources Board on January 1, 2010.  

7,500 trucks is just short of half the fleet that serves the Ports, which collectively are the busiest port in the U.S.  If those trucks disappear and are not replaced, how is the cargo that they now carry going to be moved?   Does ATA not remember what happened to the economy during the 2002 lockout at the Los Angeles and Long Beach ports?    

But wait, there's more.  If new trucks do show up at the Ports, who is likely to own them?  Not the thousands of low-paid owner-operators who currently haul containers at the Ports; they were relying on Port subsidies and incentives to fund the otherwise-unavailable $150,000 clean trucks, and those subsidies and incentives will go away if ATA gets what it is asking for.  Instead, it will be the biggest and best capitalized large trucking companies, who don't need subsidies and who will drive the "Mom and Pop" operators out of business. 

According to the ATA's website, one of its missions is:  "to serve and represent the interests of the trucking industry with one united voice."  It's unclear to me how the word "united" fits where ATA takes a position that favors the wealthiest few of its members over the masses of low-profit licensed motor carriers.  We may soon see how united ATA is if if Judge Snyder gives ATA what it wants.