LOS ANGELES - A U.S. district judge toured the Port of Los Angeles on Thursday, April 29, on the final day of the federal trial about the city's controversial Clean Trucks Program, the Daily Breeze newspaper reported. 

Judge Christina Snyder must now rule on whether the port can legally restrict the types of drivers entering port terminals as part of the Clean Trucks Program, which requires all big rigs to meet the 2007 federal clean truck emissions standards by 2012. 

The American Trucking Associations (ATA) has legally challenged the program. The group has requested that Snyder permanently block the port's concession agreements, including a requirement that freight haulers hire employee drivers rather than independent owner-operators by 2013. 

Port officials have argued that they are within their rights to establish their own set of rules for trucks operating on their property. They contend that the employee-only mandate for drivers helps facilitate the replacement of older trucks with lower-emission trucks. Most independent owner-operators are not in a financial position to replace their older trucks with newer, low-emission models, they say. 

Currently, the program's employee mandate for drivers is blocked by a preliminary injunction, sought by ATA. 

Trial testimony, which began April 20, wrapped up on April 28. Attorneys representing the Port of Los Angeles, the American Trucking Associations and the Natural Resources Defense Council have until May 12 to submit written closing arguments.