Feds Attempt to Block Clean Air Gains at CA Ports

Federal Maritime Commission sides with industry to halt Clean Trucks Programs
WASHINGTON, DC (October 29, 2008) – Today, in a move that could delay clean air gains for millions of southern California residents, the Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) voted 2-1 to seek an injunction against key components of the clean trucks programs at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, a dramatic fleet turnover policy to permanently reduce deadly diesel pollution in southern California. The Bush Administration’s intervention follows two failed attempts by the American Trucking Association to block the historic program in U.S. District Court and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

The commission violated several federal environmental laws by pursuing the injunction, according to an appeal to the commission by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), the Coalition for Clean Air (CCA), and Sierra Club. Further litigation against the commission will be filed this week to fight this attack to derail clean air gains in southern California.
Following is a statement by Peter Lehner, executive director, NRDC:
“The commission is siding with a filthy industry and blocking the path to clean air and public health. The ports have a right and obligation to keep dirty trucks off of their property, and the commission should get out of the way.”
Following is a statement by Carl Pope, executive director, Sierra Club:
“Port drivers and the community have been paying the price with their lungs and livelihoods for too long. This is the Bush Administration’s last-ditch effort to let the nation’s largest trucking lobby off the hook for the pollution they create. Capitalized companies can afford to buy and maintain the clean trucks we need - individual workers cannot. And that’s why we need the employee requirement to sustain clean up in the long run. Two commissioners in Washington, D.C. should not make a decision behind closed doors to ruin clean air for all southern Californians.”
The clean trucks programs went into effect October 1, 2008 and retired more than 2,000 pre-1989 diesel trucks from the fleet that serves the port from entering port property. Removing these diesel trucks reduced truck-produced air pollution at the ports 50 percent overnight. Roughly 15,000 diesel cargo trucks are scheduled to be phased out during the next five years and replaced with EPA 2007 compliant trucks. Replacing the port truck fleet will reduce truck-produced air pollution at the ports 80 percent by 2012.
The commission claims jurisdiction over various agreements that the ports enter into, including the trucking programs. NRDC, the Coalition for Clean Air, and Sierra Club petitioned the commission, cautioning it not to take any action that would impede the environmental benefits of the ports’ trucking plans without first complying with several environmental laws, including the National Environmental Policy Act, Clean Air Act, and the Energy Policy and Conservation Act.