Long Beach officials, environmentalists seek to unsettle port settlement with trucking industry

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AP Photo/Jeff Lewis

Los Angeles and Long Beach independent port truck drivers convoy from Los Angeles to the Port of Long Beach in diesel trucks in support to the ports "Clean Trucks Program," Wednesday, June 27, 2007, in Los Angeles as they push for cleaner air and better working conditions for drivers.

In Long Beach, public officials and environmental activists are challenging a plan by the harbor commission to settle a lawsuit with the trucking industry.

A year-old program at the harbor complex aims to take the oldest, dirtiest trucks off the road.

The American Trucking Association’s legal challenges have hobbled the Clean Trucks program and have held up some rules in Los Angeles, too.

Now in Long Beach, harbor commissioners are moving toward settling the suit and easing the enforcement of pollution limits. Some environment and labor activists say they'll challenge the port's decision before the Long Beach city council.

At a brief protest outside the harbor commissioners' meeting, they shouted: "Clean air, good jobs! Clean air, good jobs!"

Long Beach’s charter provides that city’s harbor commission with authority over the port's legal matters. Patricia Castellano heads the Coalition for Clean and Safe Ports.

She says that even though the port is chartered, the Long Beach city council should weigh in on the settlement.

"The port of Long Beach is one of the largest generators of pollution in the city," said Castellanos. "And so local governments should have a lot to say about how these ports should operate."

Long Beach councilwoman Tonia Reyes Uranga agrees. Uranga says the trucking industry named the city in the lawsuit and therefore implicated the city council.

She and some of her colleagues have asked for a briefing from city lawyers about the case.

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