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Supreme Court to Hear ATA Challenge of LA Clean-Trucks Program

Created by HButler on 1/15/2013 5:36:05 PM

The Supreme Court told the American Trucking Associations and the Port of Los Angeles Friday that it will hear the case involving ATA’s challenge to the concession requirements contained in the port’s clean-trucks program.

The case involves an appeal of the 2011 decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit upholding certain requirements established by the Port of Los Angeles for motor carriers that do business at the port.

In its decision, the appellate court said the port can legally impose on truckers certain concession requirements, such as demanding proof of financial responsibility from motor carriers, establishing rules for off-street parking of trucks and mandating the use of placards on harbor trucks.

The 9th Circuit struck down what the ATA considered the most onerous provision in the clean-truck program, which was to require the use of employee drivers. The Teamsters union had supported that requirement, which would have made it easier to organize harbor truck drivers, most of which are considered independent contractors.

Even though the ATA won on its most important issue, the trucking organization wanted the courts to strike down all concession requirements, charging that allowing any restrictions in Los Angeles on interstate commerce would set a dangerous national precedent.

In December, the U.S. Office of Solicitor General had advised the Supreme Court not to grant ATA’s request for a writ of certiorari, arguing that the 9th Circuit’s 2011 decision does not warrant further review.

The Supreme Court said it is restricting its consideration to two questions raised in the petition for a writ of certiorari:

1. Whether an unexpressed “market participant” exception exists in Section 14501(c)(1) and permits a municipal governmental entity to take action that conflicts with the express preemption clause, occurs in a market in which the municipal entity does not participate, and is unconnected with any interest in the efficient procurement of services.

3. Whether permitting a municipal governmental entity to bar federally licensed motor carriers from access to a port operates as a partial suspension of the motor carriers’ federal registration, in violation of Castle v. Hayes Freight Lines, Inc., 348 U.S. 61 (1954).

The Port of Los Angeles stated Friday the concession requirements have helped to make the clean-trucks program a success.

“The clean-truck program has played a critical role in reducing harmful emissions by more than 90 percent from trucks operating at the Port of Los Angeles. A key component of the clean-truck program is our concession agreement, and we’re confident it will be upheld by the United States Supreme Court,” said Executive Director Geraldine Knatz.

- The Journal of Commerce.

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