The Santa Monica-based Natural Resources Defense Council has sued the Federal Maritime Commission to learn why the government agency tried to block implementation of parts of the Clean Trucks Program that the L.A. and Long Beach ports are trying to enforce. The NRDC had filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request with the commission last November to find out why it opposed in federal court the attempts to lower harbor diesel emissions 80 percent by 2012 through the replacement of old trucks with cleaner, newer ones. Last month U.S. Judge Richard Leon denied the Maritime Commission's request, though parts of the program have been blocked by a federal court injunction, pending a review of the state's overall Clean Air Action Plan, of which the Clean Trucks Program is a part.

An NRDC statement issued last October acknowledged that the ambitious $1.6 billion program will be paid for by imposing “a $35 container fee applied to each 20-foot container passing through the ports.” That fee may have prompted the then-Bush controlled commission to seek to block the program, which had unsuccessfully been fought by the American Trucking Association. Last week the ATA filed a new challenge to the program in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit.

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