Supreme Court Rules Against Port of Los Angeles Clean Trucks Program

WASHINGTON (June 13, 2013) -- The Port of Los Angeles may not implement its “off-street parking” and “placard” requirements contained in the Port’s pioneering clean truck program, according to an opinion issued today by the U.S. Supreme Court. The remaining parts of the Port’s clean truck program adopted in October 2008, including its requirements that cleaner, less polluting trucks serve the port, and that the trucks be properly maintained, are not affected by the Court’s decision and remain intact. The Court also underscored that the Port may bar trucks that do not comply with the clean trucks program from doing business at the Port.

Despite the ruling, NRDC remains committed to protecting harbor area residents living in one of the worst air pollution regions in the country – much of which is caused by diesel pollution spewing from the thousands of trucks that serve the Port. 

“Today’s ruling recognizes the importance of reducing air pollution while preserving the Port’s authority to implement a strong safety and public health truck program which will save lives,” said Melissa Lin Perrella, senior attorney for the NRDC. “We will continue to hold the Port of Los Angeles responsible for cleaning up its pollution.”

The Court’s ruling is very narrow,” said David Pettit, senior attorney and director of NRDC’s Southern California Air Program.  “It rejected most of the trucking industry’s claims and only invalidated two minor contract terms that the Port had not been enforcing.  The heart of the clean trucks program is intact and the Port’s day-to-day operations do not need to change.”

In 2008, the Port developed a clean trucks program so that it could “grow green” without harming nearby communities.  A key aspect of the program banned older, more polluting trucks from Port property; this ban on old trucks was not involved in the lawsuit decided by the Court and is still in effect.

The Port also required, by contract, that trucking companies park their off-duty trucks away from residential streets and post placards listing a phone number that the public can use to report trucks that are operating unsafely.  The Supreme Court ruled that these two requirements violated a federal statute called the Federal Aviation Administration Authorization Act of 1994. 

Today’s Supreme Court ruling resolves a 2008 lawsuit initiated by the American Trucking Associations against the City of Los Angeles challenging the Port’s authority to set air quality, safety and security standards for port trucking. NRDC attorneys intervened on behalf of NRDC, the Sierra Club and the Coalition for Clean Air to help defend the clean trucks program – a program that has significantly reduced truck-produced diesel pollution.

Related Links

1/11/2013 - Supreme Court Agrees to Hear California Clean Trucks Case

9/26/2011 - Court Ruling: Panel Upholds Clean Truck Program Public Health Safeguards

8/27/2010 - Court Ruling: Los Angeles Clean Truck Program Legally Sound

4/29/2009 - SoCal Ports' Clean Truck Plans Overcome Court Challenge