The American Trucking Assn. (ATA) filed its formal legal reply to the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach’s defense of their Concession Plans. The brief, with support from the Intermodal Motor Carriers Conference, was filed in U.S. District Court in California.

In the brief, ATA said the ports’ plans amount to a “draconian” regulatory system under which smaller carriers are forced out in favor of larger, national carriers being enticed by subsidies. It contends the concession plan amounts to state regulation of the market rather than a market driven by competition. The end result, ATA said, is cargo costs that will rise quickly resulting in higher consumer prices.

ATA also believes that under the Concession Plans there will be less money for truck retirement subsidy programs designed to meet port environmental goals. The suit will have no effect on the port actions that will clean the air, ATA said. ATA supports the ports’ bans on older, polluting trucks, the time schedule for replacing them, and the funding programs to speed replacement of the trucks.

“The Port of Los Angeles’ further intrusion into the competitive structure of the drayage market makes the ATA lawsuit even more important and illustrates precisely the type of disruption of trucking services in the economy that Congress found so inefficient and disruptive,” said ATA President and CEO Bill Graves. “Creating an artificial, non-competitive market with highly inflated costs and prices hinders our national competitive ability and sets a dangerous precedent.”

The Concession Plans by the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach would tighten emissions standards beginning Oct. 1. After that date, trucks built before 1989 will no longer be allowed into the ports. Additionally, Los Angeles will require all companies to use employee drivers only after 2012. According to the Port of Los Angeles, about 40 trucking companies have applied for the concessions, representing more than 4,000 trucks.

ATA initially challenged the Concession Plans on July 28. A Sept. 8 court hearing is scheduled.

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