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Villaraigosa's 'Clean Truck' Plan for Port of Los Angeles Fails in 9th District Court of Appeals: Greenwashing Failed to Impress

Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa's controversial "clean trucks" plan to squeeze independent truckers out of the Port of Los Angeles as a favor to the Teamsters -- a green-washing plan he sold as merely a wholesome effort to reduce emissions from old trucks, has just been zapped by a federal appeals court.

Now maybe L.A. can do what Long Beach did, and create a plan for cleaner trucks that doesn't give the Teamsters even more control on the waterfront. The Natural Resources Defense Counsel Council acted as the fig leaf for all this, backing the mayor's doomed plan. City News Service reports:

In its 2-1 ruling, a three-judge panel of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals reversed a 2010 decision by U.S. District Judge Christina A. Snyder that determined the port should be allowed to enforce the employee driver mandate.

That "mandate" would have made it impossible for anyone driving their trucks into the harbor to work for themselves, putting heavy pressure on them to join the Teamsters -- a union scrounging for new members.

Judge Snyder, who has now been overruled, sided with the union/Villaraigosa plan a year ago. But the American Trucking Assn. said the rules violated a federal law prohibiting states and localities from regulating interstate trucking.

There was some unsettling sleaze underlying this controversy.

As Jim Hankla, the venerable commission president of the equally bustling, adjacent Port of Long Beach, told a business gathering in 2009, Teamsters officials tried to sell Hankla on their plan -- Hankla refused.

Hankla then watched bemusedly as "basically the same plan [was] advocated at the Port of Los Angeles -- which includes a requirement that all drivers must be employees of the trucking companies that service the ports."

Hiding a Big Labor plan to control the harbor behind claims of environmental necessity.
Hiding a Big Labor plan to control the harbor behind claims of environmental necessity.

This greenwashing (that means selling not-so-green plans as better for the environment for reasons unrelated to helping the environment) caused Los Angeles City Hall to waste many months before they got around to actually cleaning up the trucks that service the harbor.

Meanwhile, the Port of Long Beach, by January 1, will have a fleet of 100 percent clean trucks, defined as those built in 2007 or more recently. Without letting the Teamsters act as their puppet-masters.

And who is the Natural Resources Defense Counsel Council suing over all this (in a case that once again is being decided by Judge Snyder)? The Port of Long Beach.

NRDC is suing Long Beach for failing to conduct an Environmental Impact Study required under the California Environmental Quality Act. This lawsuit is also being decided by Snyder, who sided with NRDC when she ruled against part of Long Beach's cleanup plan over the summer.

Confused? So is everyone else in this unclean-green mess.

City News Service goes on:

ATA President and CEO Bill Graves hailed the appellate decision as a

victory for the trucking industry and consumers. ... `This is a win for all involved -- trucking companies, small business owner-operators, freight shippers and, ultimately, average

American consumers.


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