Costs, Regulations and Hidden Agendas at California Ports

The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, Subcommittee on Highways and Transit, is holding a hearing at 10 a.m. this morning, “Assessing the Implementation and Impacts of the Clean Truck Programs at the Port of Los Angeles and the Port of Long Beach“:

The Subcommittee will hear from the Deputy Executive Directors of the Port of Los Angeles and the Port of Long Beach; as well as affected parties at the ports including a licensed motor carrier, an independent drayage driver, and representatives from the American Trucking Associations (ATA), the International Brotherhood of Teamsters (Teamsters), the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA), and the Coalition for Responsible Transportation.

This is the program that the unions (Teamsters) and environmental groups (NRDC) have formed an alliance on, wanting to use it to drive small, independent truckers out of business. Larger operations are more easily unionized. The committee staff memo does not put the issue in those terms.

The National Association of Manufacturers sent a letter to the committee commenting on the issues being considered today. Manufacturers object to the attempt to impose more burdensome, expensive and unnecessary regulations over interstate commerce.


NAM compliments the effort to improve air quality at the nation’s busiest port complex. It is noteworthy that both ports have dramatically reduced emissions by 80% without any changes to federal regulations and have made great strides in introducing thousands of cleaner trucks to their facilities. Further, the ports achieved this success two years ahead of schedule without implementing a controversial and unconstitutional truck concession plan that would prohibit independent owner operator truck drivers from operating harbor drayage trucks at either of the port facilities.

While the Clean Trucks Program is assessed by Congress and contemplated by other port facilities in the nation, we urge you to recognize the importance of maintaining uniform and consistent regulation of interstate commerce. Altering longstanding trucking rules that govern pricing, routes, and services as codified in the Federal Aviation Administration Authorization Act (FAAAA) as some are proposing, would have dramatic consequences beyond the Port of Los Angeles and the Port of Long Beach and would impact other public-private facilities responsible for moving freight in the supply chain by introducing economic regulation and limiting competition for transportation services. Such a change would create a patchwork of state and local trucking rules that would disadvantage U.S.-based manufacturers and exporters who rely on the efficiency of the entire transportation network. These rules have benefited manufacturers and helped keep transportation costs affordable and competitive, especially in a challenging economic climate.

The letter was signed by Robyn M. Boerstling, NAM’s director for transportation and infrastructure policy.

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