(Sept. 28, 2004) -- LBReport.com follows-up on our FLASH email and announcement posted earlier today regarding the agendizing of a Special Meeting of LB's Board of Harbor Commissioners for September 29 at 8 a.m. to rescind certification of the Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for the Port's planned 115 acre expansion of Pier J (which hooks eastward from the original Port and is visible due south of downtown Long Beach).
LBReport.com has learned that Port staff's recommendation came after closely examining the technical materials attached to an unusually stern letter from the South Coast Air Quality Management District to the Port of LB.
Based on a review of the AQMD letter's technical materials, Port staff apparently concluded that reworking part of the Port's EIR was indeed warranted...meaning some impacts that should have been part of the Port's Pier J EIR (years in the making) apparently weren't included (but will presumably be corrected now.)
LBReport.com has obtained a copy of the AQMD letter and posts it in pdf form on a link below.
Rescinding the Pier J EIR will effectively let Port staff rework/revise the document to include and/or address the matters cited by AQMD. The Port could then resubmit an amended EIR on which to pursue its Pier J expansion project.
However, it is unclear to what extent addressing AQMD's issues alone would satisfy concerns expressed by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and some members of the LB City Council.
NRDC, the non-governmental environmental group which appealed certification of the Port's EIR to the City Council and triggered an intense Sept. 14 hearing (LBReport.com coverage, click here), cited multiple grounds on which it contends the Port's EIR is seriously deficient. It remains to be seen to what extent those grounds would also be addressed in an updated Port EIR for Pier J.
NRDC has previously sued the Port of Los Angeles over an expansion project, which produced a settlement that included several mitigation measures, including implementation of cold ironing (plug in dockside power) of some ships. (The PoLB recently entered into an agreement with British Petroleum to begin LB's first cold ironing in 2006.)
At its Sept. 14 meeting, the LB City Council declined to approve the PoLB's certification of the Pier J EIR but stopped short of voting it down, preferring to give NRDC and the PoLB several weeks to focus on specific points of disagreement and perhaps resolve them.
Meanwhile, some LB Councilmembers -- including 2d district Councilman Dan Baker, whose district includes the Port -- appear to have drawn the line at additional pollution from LB's Port.
At the September 14 hearing, Councilman Baker noted that the EIR conflicts with the City Council-established policy of "no net increase in air pollution" from port expansion...because the Pier J EIR explicitly finds that additional pollution from the Pier J expansion is unavoidable.
The same sore point has been evident in Council support (in two separate voted actions) for AB 2042 authored by LB Assemblyman Alan Lowenthal (D., LB-SP-PV) to implement a "no net increase in air pollution" policy at the Ports of LB and L.A...while the Port of LB Board of Harbor Commissioners has voted to oppose AB 2042.
(As we post, AB 2042 is on Governor Schwarzenegger's desk; he has until Sept. 30 to sign it, veto it or let it become law without his signature.)
NRDC and other environmentalists insisted at the Sept. 14 Council hearing that expanding Pier J would not necessarily mean more pollution if the Port of LB would undertake certain anti-pollution measures already being taken elsewhere. The Port responded basically that the EIR only requires measures that are feasible...and in a Port context feasibility is a complex matter involving numerous interests that operate at the Port.
The Port of LB's public rescinding of its Pier J expansion EIR comes while the annual convention of the American Association of Port Authorities is taking place in LB.
To view the AQMD letter that apparently prompted rescission of the Port's Pier J expansion EIR, click Sept. 22 SCAQMD letter re Pier J EIR (a pdf file).