Supreme Court Will Hear Los Angeles Clean Trucking Lawsuit

After two years of unsuccessfully trying to be heard, the American Trucking Associations announced on Tuesday, January 22, that it had filed papers with the U.S Supreme Court, who will hear their case against the city of Los Angeles.

The dispute revolves around the Clean Trucks Plan that the city of Los Angeles implemented five years ago, in 2008, with the intention of reducing truck emissions at the Los Angeles Port, the busiest port in the country. The case, American Trucking Associations vs. City of Los Angeles, boils down to whether or not cities and states have the authority to dictate pollution laws on long-haul truckers.

Because they are traveling between states, there is reason to believe that trucks should not be impeded by a single state’s governances. Federal law states that no local regulations may affect the “price, route, or service of any motor carrier,” allowing them to maintain their schedules and minimize costs.

Of the changes, the four most heavily criticized by the ATA are financial capability requirements, off-street parking, maintenance regulations, and placard requirement. All four, argues the ATA, have very little to do with air pollution.

The fight has less to do with reducing air pollution and more to do with the ability of Los Angeles to impose regulations on the trucking industry that create economic difficulties for shipping businesses.

A U.S. District Judge upheld the provisions in 2010 and last year the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals agreed, except for a regulation restricting independent contractors. The particular rule disallowed independent truckers from working at the port, thereby forcing them to become employed by the company they shipped for, but was found to be beyond the power of ordinary city governances and was overturned.

The trail is tentatively planned for the spring of 2013, with a ruling to come by July of this year.