Pacific Swell

Southern California environment news and trends

If a Port settles a lawsuit, does it make a sound?

The Port of Long Beach has settled its year-long dispute with the American Trucking Association. The Journal of Commerce has the story, but it's pretty quiet out there.

I'm working to talk to Long Beach now, but this obviously heightens the strategic differences between the coalition of union and environmental interests working with the Port of Los Angeles and the more business-friendly Port of Long Beach. Long Beach seems to have essentially chucked the idea of concession agreements for trucking companies - through which both ports once hoped to tether industry to cleaner trucking practices and through which the city of Los Angeles planned to create better working conditions for contract drivers.

It also raises questions about which strategy is going to clean up port air fastest. Long Beach says it's got 5000 2007-model and newer trucks registered, half of what's serving the goods movement industry there right now. Long Beach's Art Wong expects that number will go up to 6-7 thousand by year's end, and with port traffic down, he says that'll be "the vast majority, maybe 95% of what's serving the port."

The environmental groups and the labor groups also run into a little problem here. On the year anniversary of the Clean Trucks Program, they crowed about how well it was going. Now their press releases are warning catastrophe. Nothing's to say they were right either time - the truth here, as with most things, is likely in between - but it's tough to counter their own spin.

As Frank Stoltze says: developing!

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