“We just don’t believe a local jurisdiction can be given the authority to enforce such a rule.”

Ocean cargo: The Federal Maritime Commission to revisit “Clean Trucks” issue today
Patrick Burnson, Executive Editor — Logistics Management, 9/24/2008

WASHINGTON—Closed-door deliberations on the Los Angeles-Long Beach Ports Terminals Agreement will take place during a portion of a Federal Maritime Commission’s (FMC) meeting today. While details were not disclosed by FMC spokesmen, shippers suspect that commissioners may share their concern about escalating costs associated with the implementation of the port’s “clean trucks” program slated to being next month.

 Last week, the National Industrial Transportation League (NITL) joined the American Trucking Associations (ATA) in seeking legal action to stop the October 1 implementation.

 “The FMC may also be evaluating the merits of this plan and its impact on shippers,” said NITL executive director, Peter Gatti in an interview. “We can already see a shift in shipping and sourcing strategies coming as a consequence of this action.”

 Earlier this month, the FMC voted 2-1 to order additional information from the ports on the proposed plan.

 According to Gatti, U.S. west coast shippers are already being “hit hard” by California state-mandated container fees and are resisting another layer of expense associated with this program.

 “And no one is against the idea of using cleaner and more fuel-efficient vehicles,” he said. “Both the NITL and the ATA support the introduction of newer trucks in the drayage operations. We just don’t believe a local jurisdiction can be given the authority to enforce such a rule. It’s a complete violation of federal law.”

 The port’s argument that its “clean trucks” program banning independent owner-operators would result in a safer and more secure waterfront is also without merit, said Gatti.

 “Shippers know that this is really about money,” he said. “And if the costs of doing business in Southern California becomes too great, they will find other ports to do business with.”