(CN) - The trucking industry need not comply with a controversial part of the Port of Los Angeles' Clean Trucks Program until a federal appeals court has heard the case, U.S. District Judge Christina Snyder ruled. She temporarily barred the port from requiring trucking firms to hire only hourly employee drivers.
This employee-driver requirement was one of many aspects of the Clean Trucks Program challenged by the American Trucking Associations (ATA) in July 2008.
The harbor boards of Los Angeles and Long Beach adopted the program in an effort to reduce emissions of fleets serving the cities' ports.
The trucking industry sued the ports and three environmental groups to block concession agreements between the port and truckers, claiming the state lacked the authority to regulate interstate motor carriers.
Judge Snyder initially ruled against the trucking association, but later enjoined parts of the program under guidance from the 9th Circuit, which found that many provisions in the concession agreements were "likely pre-empted" by federal law.
On remand, Snyder severed the pre-empted provisions and dissolved her preliminary injunction in September, saying the ports can bar entry to trucks that don't comply with the remaining environmental and safety regulations.
The ATA moved to stay Snyder's final judgment until the 9th Circuit heard its appeal.
This week, Judge Snyder agreed that "ATA's members are likely to suffer irreparable harm absent an injunction pending appeal."
Snyder said she was confident in her earlier ruling, but the "balance of equities and public interest tips in ATA's favor with respect to the employee driver provision." She explained that "the interpretation and application of the market participant doctrine in this case present substantial and novel legal questions."
She also acknowledged that trucking firms would suffer "irreparable harm" if another provision, requiring them to have off-street parking plans, goes into effect.
But she said that harm "does not appear to be severe," while enjoining the requirement would lead to safety and traffic congestion problems, and would expose the ports to potential lawsuits and further complaints about noise and pollution from idling trucks.
The judge temporarily reinstated her order enjoining the employee-driver requirement, but not the off-street parking provision.
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