LOS ANGELES --- The ongoing legal battle over the Clean Trucks Program at the Port of Los Angeles has prompted another industry group to get involved: the National Retail Federation. 

The group on Monday, July 27, urged Congress to oppose efforts to grant local governments the ability to regulate the trucking industry. The NRF sent a letter to the House Transportation Committee expressing opposition to Los Angeles' requirement that only employee drivers have access to port terminals under the Clean Trucks Program, the Daily Breeze newspaper reported. Long Beach's version of the program permits both employee and independent drivers to enter the port. 

The federation argued that while it does support efforts to replace aging big rigs with lower-emission trucks, the L.A. Clean Trucks Program's concession model threatens to drive small trucking companies out of business. 

"Enforcing a concession plan will force thousands of independent truckers out of jobs," said John Gold, vice president of customs policy for the National Retail Federation. "They claim this is needed as part of an effort to clean the air, but we don't believe it's necessary to do that." 

The Port of Los Angeles disputes the federation's assertions, according to the Daily Breeze. "The letter implies that our Clean Trucks Program eliminates smaller trucking firms," said Arley Baker, deputy executive director of communications at the Port of Los Angeles. "On the contrary, of the 800-plus companies that participate in our program, 449 are carriers with fleets of fewer than 20 trucks. Were it not for our proactive efforts on the port trucking front through this unprecedented local initiative, the old, dirty trucks would still be browning our skies." 

Launched last October, the program bars all trucks built before 1989. By 2010, the program will require that all trucks entering the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach meet 2007 federal emission standards. 

A lawsuit challenging the program, filed by the American Trucking Associations, is scheduled to go to trial in December. Recently, a federal judge threw out some of the program's provisions as part of a temporary injunction requested by the ATA.