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Judge Favors Ports' Clean Truck Program

Federal judge indicated she will reject the American Trucking Associations' attempt to block a clean air program that bans older trucks from the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach.

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- A federal judge on Monday indicated she will reject an attempt by the American Trucking Associations to block an effort to ban older trucks from entering the twin ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach and clean up the air in the surrounding neighborhoods.

The industry group has sought a preliminary injunction to halt the clean trucks program, which is scheduled to begin Oct. 1, by arguing that it placed unfair restrictions on truckers.

U.S. District Court Judge Christina A. Snyder said she would issue her decision Thursday, but indicated the program's value to the public weighed her decision "decidedly in favor of denying the injunction."

The associations will file an appeal, spokesman Clayton Boyce said.

The cities of Los Angeles and Long Beach passed plans earlier this year aimed at reducing diesel emissions at the nation's busiest cargo container complex by as much as 80 percent by replacing 16,800 trucks built before 1989 with newer, cleaner models. By 2012, all trucks passing through the ports must meet tougher 2007 federal vehicle emission standards. On Oct. 1 a fee of $35 per 20-foot container will be assessed to fund a program to help trucke owners pay for the new vehicles.

The ports handle about 40 percent of the nation's imported goods.

The trucking associations said it does not oppose efforts to clean up the air but is concerned that other measures in the plans violate federal laws by unfairly regulating prices, routes and services.

The measures include a Long Beach requirement that trucking companies dispatch only drivers who have undergone a security background check and obtained a federal Transportation Worker Identification Credential. The Los Angeles plan requires the nearly 17,000 independent truckers who work at the port to eventually become employees of trucking companies.

The Long Beach measure is unneccessary since the security measures are already in place, Boyce said.

"These concessions put costly, unnecessary regulations and requirements on trucks," he said.

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