I’ve got an update on my post about Seattle Port CEO Tay Yoshitani, who went to lobby against a Clean Truck policy yesterday at a meeting of the American Association of Port Authorities (AAPA).
Unfortunately, Yoshitani was successful in his attempt to rally the AAPA’s policy committee against reform. The wording of the resolution Yoshitani championed basically argues that individual ports have environmental protections under control, and therefore no action is needed on the federal level. (This is untrue—you can read why in my recent Stranger article on Seattle-specific problems, or this Demos analysis of the broader national issue about de-regualting the trucking industry and its negative impacts on drivers, pollution, and public health.) The resolution concludes: “AAPA does not believe there is a need at this time to amend Federal Aviation Administration Authorization Act.” Every member of the policy committee endorsed it, except the LA representative—the port that has gone the furthest in the fight for reform (more on this later in the post).
The resolution managed to get through despite the opposition of the LA and Oakland ports, and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. You’d think such heavy-hitters would have been able to block Yoshitani’s resolution, but other than LA the others have somehow neglected to get on the AAPA’s policy committee. Oops. The resolution will now go to the larger AAPA in March where it will be rubber-stamped into official policy.
But the villain of the piece isn’t the AAPA’s policy committee, which is dominated by smaller ports who haven’t had to deal with the trucking issue on the same scale as New York City, Los Angeles or, say, Seattle! SRather the question is what the hell is the president of our port doing fighting against reform that would be good for our environment, for the drivers, and for the communities around the port? What exactly does he think he is doing? Expect another update later this week. I’m going to call around and try to figure some of this out.
Meanwhile, Heather Weiner, a consultant for the Coalition for Clean and Safe Ports wrote to correct me about the nature of port-related legislation being worked out in D.C. right now:
Clarifying a point in your article: We are not asking Congress to directly address the problems in port trucking or to change truck drivers' employment status. We are merely asking Congress to close a 30-year old loophole that the ATA and some Ports, including the Port of Seattle, say prevents them from setting environmental, safety, security and labor standards for trucks.
The law in question is the Federal Aviation Administration Authorization Act. This is the loophole that allowed the American Trucking Association (ATA) to sue the Port of Los Angeles when they enacted their Clean Truck Program. (The program brought hundreds of trucking companies into concessionary business arrangements with the port, under the condition that those companies take responsibility for their drivers and the trucks.) While that legal battle is being fought, no other port can realistically utilize a similar plan. But if the loophole is closed, the bottom will fall out of the ATA’s case, opening the way for cleaner, more equitable ports across the country.