"CA Ass'n of Port Authorities," Whose Current President Is Port of LB's Exec. Dir., Supported Controversial RR MOU Opposed By LB City Council While PoLB Remained Officially Silent
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(Oct. 31, 2005) -- LBReport.com has learned that an entity calling itself the "California Association of Port Authorities," whose current president is Port of LB Executive Director Richard Steinke, urged the CA Air Resources Board to maintain a controversial "Memorandum of Understanding" (MOU) with CA railroads, which was opposed by the LB City Council, including individual testimony by two LB Councilmembers and LB neighborhood leaders, while the Port of LB itself remained publicly silent on the matter.
A letter to CARB on behalf of "CA Association of Port of Authorities" -- which said it speaks on behalf of CA's eleven publicly owned Ports [which include the Ports of LB and L.A.] -- urged the CA Air Resources Board to maintain the controversial MOU, which was opposed by South Coast Air Quality Management District, L.A. County Board of Supervisors, a number of state lawmakers and elected officials of area cities as undermining local clean air efforts.
The Port of LB has taken no official position on the RR MOU, said PoLB Director of Community Affairs/Gov't Relations Carl Kemp, who said he believes the presidency of the "CA Ass'n of Port Authorities," currently held by PoLB Exec. Dir. Steinke, rotates among the group's members.
The Port of LB's non-elected Board of Harbor Commissioners (Mayor-chosen, Council approved) has, as best LBReport.com can determine, not previously agendized, or held any public discussion or taken a publicly voted action on policy regarding the RR MOU...although the PoLB has adopted a "Green Port" resolution pledging fidelity to environmentally friendly principles.
The October 24 letter (text below) was submitted on behalf of the "CA Ass'n of Port Authorities" on the letterhead of the Sacramento lobbying firm of Scott & Lites Advocates and signed by a firm staffer.
The letter was among materials submitted in support of the MOU by a representative of CA's railroad industry at an October 27 CARB hearing during which State Senator Alan Lowenthal (D., LB-SO-PV), LB Councilwoman Tonia Reyes Uranga and WLB activist John Cross testified personally in opposition to the MOU. At a prior CARB meeting on the MOU, LB Councilwoman Bonnie Lowenthal submitted written testimony in opposition and LB Wrigley Association president Joan Greenwood testified personally against the MOU. The Coalition for Clean Air and multiple area chapters of the American Lung Association also opposed the MOU.
The MOU is supported by CARB staff (which negotiated it), the RRs (BNSF and UP) who are parties to it, their industry representatives, the Pacific Merchant Shipping Association, L.A. Chamber of Commerce and 24 state lawmakers (20 Repubs, 4 Dems). Supporters say the MOU will produce lower emissions quickly without protracted rulemaking, legislation or the risk of court challenges. The MOU also provides the RRs with consistent statewide standards...which AQMD and local officials say undermine stronger regional efforts needed because of high pollution levels resulting from operations related to Ports of LB and L.A.
At the Oct. 27 CARB meeting, the agency's governing board opted not to rescind the MOU but to direct its staff to provide the board with a report in January 2006 "clarifying" (but not renegotiating) the MOU's more controversial terms.
The letter, addressed to CARB's interim chair Barbara Riordan, doesn't indicate by what process, by whom, or when, or how the "CA Ass'n of Port Authorities" arrived at its position on behalf of CA's publicly owned Ports on the controversial matters it recites:
On behalf of the California Association of Port Authorities, we are pleased to support the recent Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) entered into by the California Air Resources Board (CARB) and Union Pacific Railroad Company and BNSF Railway Company. CAPA [CA Ass'n of Port Authorities] is comprised of the state's eleven publicly-owned, deep water commercial ports...We believe this agreement will improve the goods movement systems and facilitate trade in California by reducing emissions around rail yards, without sacrificing rail efficiency. Additionally, this cooperative agreement has allowed California to avoid unnecessary delays due to legal challenges regarding the State's legal authority.
The MOU will reduce particulate emissions from rail yards throughout California by approximately 20 percent over the next three years. The air emission reductions achieved by the agreement are larger and will be implemented faster than any proposed regulatory requirement or legislation.
CAPA views voluntary agreements, such as the CARB/Rail MOU as an important way for federally preempted industries and the State to achieve mutually beneficial goals. Without this key tool, the state will not be able to negotiate tangible environmental and social improvements.
Lastly, the termination clause [strongly opposed by AQMD as a "poison pill"] is essential to ensure consistent statewide regulation and to avoid a patchwork of regulations that could potentially discourage the use of rail by creating barriers to efficient operations.
As you know, rail is the most environmentally sound way to move goods onshore and is a key component of the goods movement system the [sic] within California and through out [sic] the nation. CAPA supports the ARB's efforts to ensure efficient, environmentally sound transportation of goods. We encourage your Board to ratify the agreement, without amendments, at the upcoming October 27 hearing.
Thank you again for this opportunity to support this innovative MOU.
A form dated November 14, 2004, submitted to the CA Secretary of State's office by Richard Steinke in his capacity as the responsible officer of the "California Association of Port Authorities," authorizes Schott and Lites Advocates to engage in the activities of a lobbying firm under state law on CAPA's behalf for the 2005-06 legislative session.
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