In response to a recent joint letter to Representative James Oberstar (D-MN), chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and the Sierra Club, The National Industrial Transportation League (NITL) refuted claims made by the environmental interest groups that the NITL opposed the Ports of Los Angeles’s and Long Beach’s Clean Air Action Plan (CAAP).

The NITL’s comments were in response to an August 21, 2009 letter from the Sierra Club and NRDC to Rep. Oberstar. These two organizations wrote in support of changes to the Federal Aviation Administration Authorization (FAAA) to broaden the ability of local governmental entities to regulate port trucking services. The NITL reiterated its strong opposition to this effort as it would only lead to, “‘a patchwork of local regulations that would make efficient and effective interstate transport impossible.”

As part of their arguments supporting changes to the FAAA, the environmental groups chastised the NITL and other groups that oppose broadening local authority saying their support for the ports’ clean air goals “are disingenuous.”

Peter J. Gatti, executive vice president of the NITL, responded by saying, “Contrary to the claims of the Sierra Club and NRDC, the NITL never opposed the CAAP’s goals of reducing vehicle emissions and fostering a cleaner environment.” He pointed out that the NITL’s opposition was centered on that portion of the Plan that would require, “that all drivers be employees of trucking establishments rather than independent owner-operators.” Gatti said this requirement, “would only result in significant restrictions on cargo flows and would drive hard working independent owner-operators to the unemployment lines.”

Finally, the NITL said this charge of opposing the CAAP, “is a flagrant distortion of the truth” and as evidence of its support for improved air quality said many NITL members, “have made substantial investments in new and cleaner trucks’” (NITL)