Dr. Elisa Nicholas [sp?]
...I'm the project director of the LB Alliance for Children with Asthma, which is a new alliance that has developed to look at childhood asthma...As a physician, I'm acutely aware of the effects of air pollution, and now that I've become more and more involved in asthma, even more so...[I]f you look at the map that's recently been published of the asthma rates, you will see that the rates are the highest in areas with high pollution. In LB, asthma is the most prevalent diagnosis of preventable admissions to the pediatric intensive care unit and it's the number one chronic disease and number one cause of preventable missed school days...
Noel Park [sp?]
...I'm the president of the San Pedro and peninsula homeowners coalition...We have seen these studies, and I think someone will show you again the map from the MATES-2 study later. We find them terrifying and disturbing, and we have indeed written several times to you and supplied a substantial amount of documentation of the health concerns that we have.
This bill that Assemblyman Lowenthal is carrying is I think brought about because of an outcry from his constituents...We feel that clearly the MATES-2 study shows that the diesel emissions of the two ports [LB and L.A.] create a profound health risk in the surrounding communities.
And we believe, and not meaning to give offense, and having said this to the Los Angeles Harbor Commission, that you as Commissioners...are charged we believe to protect the public trust. And the public trust is to protect the health and safety of the public primarily and overall, so that the service of more containers and more cargo we don't believe is more important than protecting the health and safety of the community...
Dear friends, statistics show people will die from these diesel emissions and many will become ill and you have to take ownership of that. And we beg you please not only not to oppose this bill, which is the first halting step towards controlling these emissions, but indeed to support it.
...I am the Vice President [Legislative and Regulatory Affairs] of the CA Trucking Association. We are the sponsors of this bill. We went to Assemblyman Lowenthal, asked him to carry this bill, after ten years of trying to work with an industry that ignored us...
...The bill changes the relationship in a market based way by eliminating truck idling or charging a fine. Right now it's free for the port areas to operate in a manner that uses the freeways and the arteries as a parking lot...We're putting a cost to the parking. You can pay the fine or you can change the way you do business, but it can't be free anymore because the people who are bearing the cost are the communities, and they look at the trucking industry first.
It's not our fault when we're forced to park. Somebody else has to take the rap for this one. That's why we had to team up with the communities, the Teamsters, the ILWU...
...With the amount of diesel emissions produced by our idling trucks which serve the Port, the threat increases every day, and every day the chance of lung cancer, intensified asthma attacks and early death grow...
To even imagine this was being done purposefully is too grotesque to even consider. Nor was it easy for me as a History major in college to consider the unnecessary deaths resulting from the building of the Transcontinental Railroad, or the development of the meat packing industry. The history of industrial growth in the United States has not been a moral one nor a pretty one.
Yet today, daily, the emissions are being spewed out into the air and this you know about. This you are responsible for. They're being done so the ports will continue operating.
To consider closing the ports is too outrageous to even think about, but to consider the deaths of people as a result of the action of the Port is even more outrageous...
Dr. John Miller
...I am a board certified emergency room physician...I was previously trained as a radiation oncologist, that is a cancer specialist.
I am an elected member of the coastal San Pedro neighborhood council and I am chairman of the health and safety committee of that neighborhood council...
...I observe that opposition to this bill puts this agency in the position of appearing to try to maintain an inefficient status quo at the expense of the health and safety of all citizens living in the [south coast air basin]...
...I would say that it's shaping up that diesel exhaust here in the early part of this century is shaping up as the asbestos story of the 2000's, you know with the relationship between shipyard asbestos exposure and the well known cause of death known as mesothelioma. Diesel exhaust is not really associated with mesothelioma but it's being associated with a whole litany of serious health risks...
...I represent the Steamship Association of Southern California...There is no question that the purpose of this bill is noble...The bill is misdirected in its trying to accomplish what changes they're asking for...
...The Port of Long Beach is the only port that has stood up and at least listened to the dialogue relative to this bill...The Port of Los Angeles can't seem to get its political strings attached. So I ask you as the only responsible port to stand up and make a statement on behalf of opposing this bill...
...I am frankly troubled that you would take our input on this matter without letting us see the draft of the letter that you are contemplating sending with reference of this bill that was not released with the agenda. I am troubled that you would take our input without giving a staff report so we may speak to whatever items you are being asked to oppose.
However, I did speak to staff last week and I was told, if I understood the position correctly, essentially that the Port understands the risks associated with diesel particulate, and everyone's goal is of course to reduce air pollution, but that you feel discriminated against by this particular bill because it singles out three ports.
If that's true I think that's great, because I'm going take that to mean first of all that you are willing to stipulate to all the health information that is being presented here today. And I'm going to take that secondly to mean that as individuals you will join us in aggressively lobbying for legislation that will reduce pollution in all the air in California over which you have no jurisdiction.
But that argument is completely specious with the resolution in front of you today because the Charter of the City of Long Beach gives you jurisdiction over, and only over, the Harbor Dept. The Long Beach City Charter also gives you the authority to dictate the terms of all the leases with your marine terminals. The Long Beach City Charter also gives you the express duty to require terminal operators to maintain their leaseholds with a special reference to the safety of persons and the reduction of nuisances.
And the Long Beach City Charter gives you the power to impose fines up to twice the amount of those contemplated by AB 2650.
So if you feel singled out by this legislation, I would say it's because citizens and employees who've been literally sickened by your non-performance, have asked for a bill that would compel the behavior that existing law already makes it your responsibility to exact.
And if you oppose that bill, I believe that you'll send a political message that says that you are controlled by your tenants rather than the other way around. I believe you will send a legal message that says any harmful health impacts suffered by any future class of plaintiffs were willfully inflicted.
[Due to audio tape difficulty, balance of Ms. Myown's testimony is text as prepared for delivery, believed close to actually delivered.]
And I believe you will exceed the scope of your authority.
Let me repeat: Precisely because the language of AB 2650 is narrowly written concerning Harbor operations, and because it addresses what is already your duty to require of tenants, your opposition to AB 2650 would be an act in excess of your authority under the Long Beach Charter.
I note that the California Association of Port Authorities has opposed this bill, and that Executive Director Steinke, who serves at your pleasure and enjoys only such powers as you deem appropriate, is your representative to that body. I would like a determination regarding whether Mr. Steinke exercised a vote or influence over CAPA's decision and if so, I respectfully request that you censure him for all the reasons just cited.
The City Council of Long Beach has unanimously adopted a State Legislation and Environmental Affairs Agenda that reads, in pertinent part, "Support legislation that improves the quality of air in the City of Long Beach by reducing particulate matter."
You may not feel bound by their agenda, but you are their political appointees, and they are ours. You are the only affected port that will be opposing its City Council, and you are the only affected port that will be opposing this legislation.
Ladies and Gentlemen, it is the will of the people of Long Beach that Harbor operations shall respect our health and safety. Regardless of how you vote today, AB 2650 will pass and make it the will of the people of California that you shall respect our health and safety.
I strongly urge you, in this and in all your deliberations, to respect the health, and the safety, and the will of those people under whose Charter you are constituted.
Audio tape difficulties prevent our transcribing intervening testimony by Traci Wilson-Kleekamp
...The cat's out of the bag. It's a big ferocious cat, and every time somebody hears that they themselves live in a diesel death zone, [holds up MATES-2 map modeling cancer risks from multiple airborne toxics in L.A. basin], it's the black area on this map...and these dark areas mark the areas we refer to as the diesel death zone.
...I want to know if you're proud of world trade. [applause] Something's very wrong here. Something's very, very wrong...Nobody's managing the Port, nobody's managing world trade, and it's costing us our lives, it's costing us the environment...
And you folks here on the Board of Harbor Commissioners, you're the head of the monster. You make the decisions. And if you make the wrong decisions, people die and when people die it's criminal...
...I'd like to not only ask you to support this bill, and you should be damned ashamed of yourself if you go against it. [applause]
But I'd like to tell you, that you should go a step further and I think you should be responsible, a responsible Port...Take a step further, please. Cut Port emissions. Give the public some faith in your ability to manage the Port. Cut Port emissions in half. Give us a date. I want to know when it is. When are you going to cut the emissions in half? When are you going to start saving lives?
Jeff Layton [sp?]
...I'm a trucker, one of the guys who's supposedly in control of polluting this air, but I don't believe that. I support the bill. I want my health, my children's health, my employees, and anyone in the communities to live a long prosperous life and not be shortened on anything within my control. [applause]...
...I'm the president of California Earth Corps. We've been involved with diesel emissions and this sort of thing for the last 11 years...
...These are all preventable deaths, preventable by this Commission. We're on record at looking at using biodiesel instead of bunker fuel. Yes, you can impose that...
Looking at this measure that's before you, AB 2650, is a rather easy one. This should be no problem...This one has been thoroughly vetted...it's been heavily compromised...It provides all the exemptions. It doesn't cost you anything...
This is not only a labor issue, it's an environmental justice issue. If you look at this diesel death map, where you find that people of color and poverty are inordinately exposed, those folks who are dying as a result of policies of continuing to emit a toxicant as powerful as this are primarily the young, the old and the impaired, folks who don't have the financial resources to do anything about it...
Patti Senecal [sp?]
...My company is Transport Express, we're a 25 year old family business operating in these ports, New Jersey and also now Vancouver. I represent the California Trucking Association, I chair the Intermodal Conference for southern California...
...I'd like to also talk about something that was touched on earlier and that's a class action...I'm concerned that we're going to have a class action launched against our industry, our ports...They're going to take a clip board and they're going to walk along the streets in our communities. "Are you coughing? Do you have a cough? Does your child have asthma? Do you have birth defects?"
And we are going to be in a class action because it is intentional what we're doing. It is intentional that we're allowing trucks to idle, and we're allowing them to idle for the profit of somebody else, and I can tell you it's not the profit of the trucking industry. Our actions are willful and with knowledge, you hear the medical science, and it's with knowledge that we're allowing these things to happen and that's what's going to be the base of a class action against all of our industry...Our industry wants to do the right thing. We do not want to idle...
Commissioner Hearrean: Being a trucker, and being the fact that your emissions as you drive is much greater than the idling of this short period of time, what are you going to do in relationship to a class action suit, because they're going to sue the trucking companies?...My point is, you're taking a position in one case and yet the pollution is all the way, it's not just here, it's all the way down the roadway...
[Senecal defers to CA Trucking Ass'n previous speaker, Stephanie Williams]
Ms. Williams: ...We have a position. We are going to be introducing legislation next year called shipper liability, which makes these companies liable. We believe so strongly in our position, this is the first of a slew of bills that are coming out. And this could be a change, we could either have this bill pass, and we think it's going to, and we all sit down and be friends, or we can do this and pass shipper liability and make you outright liable for all health claims.
Commissioner Hearrean: Well not us..
Ms. Williams: ...Yes! You. Your group, the Port of Long Beach has to take responsibility.
Commissioner Hearrean: You're dreaming [referring to shipper liability], that'll never happen...This is my question, very sincere about this. We're talking about pollution that is going to be very small at the idling compared to the overall trucks...
Ms. Williams. That's not true. That's not what the models say.
Commissioner Hearrean: What is the trucking industry, because you represent them, at least in CA you represent them, what is the trucking industry going to do in relationship to the state for pollution?...What are you going to do to cut down emissions in the state?
Ms. Williams: We're going to do exactly what the cars did. We're going to get catalytic converters. We're going to get Nox absorbers. We're going to get particulate traps. We're going to get them in 2006 because it's federally EPA mandated. We supported that action...
Commissioner Hearrean: And how much will that lower our pollution levels?
Ms. Williams: 90% from today's levels...
Commissioner Hearrean: ...In '06, there's going to be a 90% reduction in emissions...That's a lot more than what we're talking about today in relationship to small idling.
Ms. Williams: Idling is not small...There's an impact model done by the Air Resources Board that shows you idling is not lower pollution. And inching up is the worst. So I would say to you that the on road trucks are a lot cleaner than the trucks that are inching up to the Port. That's what the Air Resources Board model says and that's a fact of pollution.
...I'm the west coast representative of the International Brotherhood of the Teamsters, Port Division.
...The Longshore unions on the east coast are joining with the Teamsters to introduce similar legislation in Texas and New Jersey, and the ILWU and ourselves are sponsoring legislation in Oregon and Washington along with the trucking associations...This type of legislation is not putting your port at a competitive disadvantage...
[To produce rapid transcript, several speakers are omitted.]
Following all speakers, Commission President Hancock gave the floor first to Commissioner Calhoun:
Commissioner John Calhoun
...As you know, [Commissioner] Carmen Perez and I met with Mr. Lowenthal. We pointed out to him the concerns that we had and that were concerns of other people, the issues that we identified. Indicated to him that we thought that some of those could be accommodated if a discussion could be held between Mr. Lowenthal and his staff members, the Port terminal operators and we offered to participate to try to facilitate things.
The first meeting we had with Mr. Lowenthal, he seemed to be receptive at least to having to having a meeting, and it was our understanding that the meeting was going to be held very quickly so that input could be analyzed and discussed further and possible amendments could be developed and included in the bill before it went before the last substantive hearing before the end of the legislative session.
One of the problems is that the legislature terminates in about three weeks and the legislative committees have all of their schedules set, it's not really possible to add additional hearings, it's not possible to move or continue hearings. This matter also has to go to the Appropriations Committee but we've been informed that because it doesn't have any identified state fiscal impact that it will be reported out of the committee without the benefit of a hearing under rule 22-8, which says if there's no fiscal impact that the matter is directly reported to the floor.
I've had further discussions with Assemblyman Lowenthal and a member of his staff about the concerns that I and Commissioner Perez have raised, about the issue of fairness, about the issue of reasonableness. One speaker here denoted that this was a "kick start," and to me it's more than a kick start.
I other words, instead of mandating a scheduling system and then having a study, a multimember task force, look and see how the scheduling system works without all of these penalties, and then determine what penalties are appropriate and when they should kick in, and who they should apply to. In other words, if a trucker shows up and sits in line, either without an appointment or with a lot of documentation that isn't appropriate, that terminal operator is not causing that line to be backed up. That trucking company or trucker is causing that particular slowdown.
And they don't stop them outside the gate; that's the reason for the gate, because that's when they determine whether your paperwork is appropriate or not. OK, so the point is that there are provisions in this bill that Commissioner Perez and I, and she's out of the country but she has expressed this many times, that we feel is unfair and unreasonable and it puts, as Mr. Wylie has indicated, puts all the burden on one of the many parties.
If the labor force shows up late one morning, if the labor shift goes to lunch and gets back late and the trucks back up because there's nobody to handle the boxes inside the terminal, that still requires the terminal operator to be liable for a penalty for every one of the trucks that's backed up over something that the terminal operator has absolutely no control. To us, that's unfair. It's unreasonable.
And...the terminal operators have proposed a scheduling system to go into effect, and they're all pretty much of a mind to establish a scheduling system, but to not impose the penalties until after it's determined how the scheduling system should be set up, is set up, is implemented, and then maybe should be changed. And then maybe penalties should be determined and assessed and accountability should be placed on more than the terminal operators for a glich in the system.
So therefore, the terminal operators have also ask that the bill be amended to specifically provide that they not be held responsible for anything that's beyond their control. That seems to me to be a reasonable request. To hold somebody responsible for something they have no control over does not seem to me to be the right way to proceed in this particular matter.
As has been pointed out, if the costs go up too high, over 40% of the cargo that comes through our port is what we call "discretionary cargo." That cargo is destined for areas outside of this big market area called southern California. That cargo can come into the United States and many other places outside the state of California. And every time one of those boxes doesn't come to southern California, that means jobs, that means money, and that means economic welfare for a lot people.
[interjected from audience]: Dead people?
Commission chair Hancock: You've had your opportunity to speak...we're trying to communicate with the group and have them understand our thoughts on it, so let's please keep quiet in the audience.
Commissioner Calhoun: ...I'm all in favor of reducing pollution and reducing congestion, so I'm all in favor of the stated purpose of this bill, but I'm not in favor of the way the bill is currently worded as far as implementation of how we get rid of pollution or reduce pollution and congestion. So when I vote today, I'm probably going to vote to oppose the bill, but I'm opposing it only because it's written to provide for the implementation of this program in what I consider to be an unfair and an unreasonable and an unworkable situation.
So, I feel that Assemblyman Lowenthal hopefully will see that to try to put all of the accountability, all of the penalties, all of the costs, on one of the many players in this particular logistics chain -- and that's labor, the truckers, the shippers, the consignees, there's a lot players -- and each one of them has a part to play to reduce the congestion at the port and to reduce in some respects the pollution.
There are 15 states that require that idling trucks turn off their engines while they're in the queue. Now nobody to my knowledge has ever presented me anyway with any information as to whether or not those systems work, but they must be working, otherwise they'd be repealed.
[audience member interjects it creates more pollution to turn engine on]. And I hear the comment it causes more pollution to turn the trucks on. Well, we've been informed that that may be true for a few minutes but not for a long period of time.
So anyway, I just don't think this bill, again I'm in favor of reducing pollution and reducing congestion, but the way this bill is currently written, and I'm made it clear face to face with Assemblyman Lowenthal, I just don't think it's fair and reasonable and the way to proceed.
Commissioner Hearrean: I'd like to start off by thanking the entire audience and their input. Everybody here is sincere. Everybody cares about the environment. There is different solutions to solving the problem.
I'm a supporter of Alan Lowenthal. My understanding is we are still going to meet with Alan Lowenthal and discuss possible changes to the bill, and I think that meeting is scheduled for the 12th or 13th of this month. I'm going to support the letter of asking the legislature to deny [AB 2650] but there's going to be a cover letter, and the cover letter is basically going to say that we're looking forward to meeting with Alan on possibility of changes, and if we can agree upon that, then we will support his bill.
I agree with the entire audience, something has to be done. I agree that the pollution levels are not acceptable in our area. In fact, for those out there I'll share with you, in the last year I've been trying to work on credits from diesel engines at the legislative level as well as Congress, to give money to us so we can turn around and give it back to the truckers to improve their trucks. There are other things that can be done.
I know that the American Trucking Association [rep] thought I was attacking her on what she was going to do and that was not it at all. I wanted to know what plan they had in relationship to '06 because I would like to help in getting additional funding so that the truckers are not totally impacted by this cost. And I believe that there are ways to do it.
We have also asked for diesel emission of trains as credits because the Alameda Corridor and other things are saving the emissions...But this has got to be a fairness issue. All of the stakeholders have got to be on board. If this is worked out so we get everybody on board, we have a system that everybody is working and everybody is agreeing with and everybody is going to try to make it work. If we penalize only one, why do the others care?...
So from my standpoint,...I'm...agreeing to send the letter but I would like to have an accompanying letter saying that if in fact we meet with Mr. Lowenthal and we agree upon certain changes, then our position could be different.
Commission chair Hancock: This item I think you're perhaps aware has been under discussion at the staff level and the Board level for several weeks, I believe it's been to the Board twice for consideration, with a recommendation that we take a position in opposition. The discussion has been such that we felt there was a way in which amendments could be added to it if the Assemblyman wished to do that. That we could support the bill, that we would like to support the bill.
They have not been accomplished at this point in time and we're not here to point fingers at why they have not been accomplished. We're put into a time corner today where we feel that it's necessary, or at least I think we feel it's necessary, to take a position to express our strong reservation for how this is to be accomplished.
We all hope that we can go forward in a way that makes this a constructive bill that will deal with this in an equitable manner and really get at the roots of the problem. I'm sure the shipping industry, the terminal operators, hear these messages loud and clear. This has got to change. We've got to help it. We don't do it all. We're not trying to pass it off on truckers, shippers or anybody. We've got to have a coalescence coming together with an effective and workable plan and we will continue to work toward that regard.
Commissioners asked Port of LB staffer Don Wylie to read the letter that would be sent if Commissioners so voted. Mr. Wylie read the letter, which we have posted verbatim in pdf form. To view it, click Port of LB letter Aug. 5 opposing AB 2650 as written.
A motion was made to send the letter to the Senate Local Government Committee scheduled to hear the bill on Aug. 7. The vote was 3-0.
Commission President Hancock then said:
"I might comment that while both Commissioners Perez and Kashiwabara are not here today and therefore are not formally voting on this item, their position as we have endeavored to deal with this throughout has been of a consistent nature, and while I would not put their vote in there, this is a position that I think the Commission has taken and endeavored to deal with in a consistent manner."