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Commissioner Brennan Dissents from Commission Vote to Delay San Pedro Ports Agreement and Clean Trucks Program

September 12, 2008

Commissioner Joseph E. Brennan of the Federal Maritime Commission voted "no" to a staff recommendation to further delay a comprehensive environmental and economic plan of the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach contained in their cooperative working agreement (FMC Agreement No. 201170). Mr. Brennan believes that the Commission is making a monumental mistake in delaying, yet again, the overall environmental plan that the cities of Los Angeles and Long Beach have developed to address serious health concerns and needed port expansion in the region. Earlier, in April of 2008, the Commission delayed the Ports' related implementation agreement (FMC Agreement No. 201178) by requesting additional information. Some of the questions in the April request are essentially repeated in this latest September request.

Commissioner Brennan notes that the LA/Long Beach agreement has been on file with the Commission since June of 2006 and that the FMC staff now has extensive information as a result of numerous meetings between Commission staff and the Ports' representatives in Washington and on the West Coast. Those contacts over more than two years, along with extensive public comments filed by interested parties, have given the agency an ample record of facts, statistics, projections, and studies upon which to assess provisionally whether the potential effect of the agreement on rates and service would be "unreasonable" under section 6(g) of the Shipping Act.

Commissioner Brennan believes that the FMC should show more deference in these circumstances to the public policy judgments of the elected officials of two major cities, without ignoring the agency's statutory responsibilities under the Shipping Act. In his view, the agreement filed with the Commission represents principally an environmental and labor/management matter, and the agency has neither the charge nor the necessary expertise to rule on those issues.

Commissioner Brennan considers the agency's recent action to be inconsistent with the policy statement in the Shipping Act requiring the FMC "to establish a nondiscriminatory regulatory process . . . with a minimum of government intervention and regulatory costs." 46 U.S.C. § 40101(1) (emphasis added). He does not believe that the agency needs to further delay this major environmental and economic development initiative of Los Angeles and Long Beach by demanding answers to over 100 detailed questions and requests for documents. He is concerned that the FMC, by acting to delay yet again, is ignoring the serious health problems and economic concerns of millions of Californians. He respectfully but very strongly disagrees with his colleagues on the Commission.