A federal judge has upheld all elements of the Port of Los Angeles’ clean air program, including a controversial provision that bans independent truck drivers and requires them to be employees of companies that have obtained concessions.

Los Angeles district court Judge Christina Snyder stated in Thursday’s ruling that the port’s concession agreements with trucking companies were a “business necessity” to protect the government’s financial interests.

The program requires engines in trucks servicing the port to meet progressively stiffer clean air standards. The port has spent more than $57 million on subsidizing the purchase of clean-emission trucks for some companies.

The American Trucking Associations, a trade group that filed the suit in July 2008 on behalf of independent truck drivers, said Friday it will appeal the ruling. The ATA argued that the port did not have the right to establish concession agreements because only the federal government can regulate interstate commerce.

“We are disappointed with the decision, and believe it is clearly erroneous as a matter of law,” the ATA said in a statement.

Because independent owner-operators of trucks will be banned under the provision, truckers will have to become employees of big truck companies. The trucking association has argued that the employee requirement will easily allow the Teamsters to organize truckers. Labor interests lobbied for the regulations.

The trial for the case was held in April at the federal district court in Los Angeles.

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