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Commissioner Brennan Favors Expedited Review of Port Services Agreement to Allow Operation of Clean Trucks Program of California Ports

December 5, 2008

Commissioner Joseph Brennan dissented from the Commission majority's decision to deny expedited review of the Port Services Agreement of Los Angeles and Long Beach (FMC Agreement No. 201199). Commissioner Brennan is concerned that not granting the request for expedited review will lead to the impression that the Federal Maritime Commission is oblivious or indifferent to the felt need and urgency of economic development and cleaning up the air for millions of southern Californians.

The overall concept of the Clean Trucks Program has been before the Commission in one form or another for over two years. In September 2008, the FMC started an investigation of the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach for possible Shipping Act violations relating to the Clean Trucks Program. Then, in October, the FMC sued in federal district court to enjoin parts of the Clean Trucks Program. Now the FMC is reviewing the Port Services Agreement to determine whether the FMC should request additional information from the agreement parties or seek another injunction in federal court.

Brennan's vote to allow expedited review rests, in part, upon his recognition that there are actually people in state and local government who have substantially more knowledge about environmental protection and port management than does the Federal Maritime Commission, especially in their own cities and states.

A two-term Maine governor and two-term Maine attorney general, Brennan would have the FMC pay more deference to the considerable expertise and practical judgments of policymakers in Los Angeles and Long Beach. Brennan believes the Commission must acknowledge that not all public policy geniuses are within the federal government. While not a rubber stamp, the FMC should, in his view, show more deference to how the elected mayors and city councils have decided to deal with pressing economic and environmental problems in California.