(March 28, 2004) -- We're sorry LB City Councilmembers Bonnie Lowenthal and Dan Baker -- whose records had been superlative on Port pollution issues until recently -- convinced their colleagues (Colonna, O'Donnell, Kell, Richardson and Lerch; Reyes Uranga momentarily absent; Gabelich dissenting) to endorse the Port of LB's mislabeled "Green Port" policy that lets the Port worsen air quality while the Port and City Hall lobby for federal projects that will increase Port capacity.
The Council's needless endorsement of the Port's self-serving policy means that the Port's pollution is no longer about the Port. It's about what the City Council supports.
The Port tells clean air advocates it's only a landlord. Fine. The Council should start treating the Port the way it treats other landlords that let their tenants inflict nuisances, impose costs, risk public health and degrade neighborhood quality of life. City Hall's policy is to curtail those nuisances, not invite more.
The City Council's first duty is to safeguard public health and safety. Until the Port changes its position on "no net increase," the Council should not support federal projects that will increase the Port's capacity...because they will increase the Port's capacity to pollute.
Since LB's Port has lobbied against clean air legislation supported by the City Council, it shouldn't complain when the Council follows suit and lobbies against capacity-expanding projects that invite more pollution. Residents are no longer fooled by claims that capacity increasing projects will "reduce" pollution; if a project doubles capacity and "decreases pollution" by 10%, the net result will be to increase pollution.
The Council has leverage right now...because the U.S. Senate is considering a major federal Transportation Bill known as TEA-LU -- "Transportation Equity Act -- a Legacy for Users." Unless the Port of LB commits to no net increase, TEA-LU's legacy for LB could be increased cancers, childhood asthma, heart disease and more.
The House has approved a pared down version of TEA-LU and there'll likely be efforts to quietly insert Port-desired Pork in a "conference" version of the Senate and House bills. That's where the poisoned Pork can be stopped.
The Port of LB shouldn't receive a federal entitlement to worsen pollution. If there are those who feel otherwise, we want to know who they are.
We favor a Council resolution telling Capitol Hill that the City of LB opposes further PoLB-desired capacity-increasing infrastructure projects (including Gerald Desmond Bridge expansion) until LB's Port commits not to increase net airborne toxics.
What we advocate is very modest, perhaps too modest.
Dr. John Peters, director of the Southern CA Environmental Health Sciences Center and Prof. of Preventive Medicine at the Keck School of Medicine, USC, told a recent LB conference:
"I emphasize under present conditions, with the air the way it is now, we have more pre-term births and birth defects...We have an increase in asthma and other respiratory disease in children. We have an increase in abnormal lungs in children. We have heart disease in adults. And we have cancer. So that's what's happening with air the way it is."
Dr. Peters added, "The current air we are breathing is damaging humans of all ages...No Net Increase [in pollution] is not enough. We need to improve our air quality however we're going to do it."
The LB conference -- "Growing Pains: Health and Community Impacts of Goods Movement and the Ports" -- was organized by Southern California Environmental Health Sciences Center, a partnership of USC and UCLA scientists funded by the National Institute of Health Sciences, based at USC's Keck School of Medicine.
During the conference, AQMD Executive Officer, Barry Wallerstein, D. Env., displayed an Air Monitor measurement strip (Dec. 2003) showing the results of 24 hours in LB's Bixby Knolls air.
The conference, which included prominent scientists as well as representatives of Port and goods movement interests, heard evidence that levels of air pollution currently experienced in the L.A.-LB region are associated with illnesses and deaths at the same time as the LB-L.A. Ports receive taxpayer subsidies that conceal their true costs and encourage further growth.
LBReport.com has posted in-depth coverage of the event...including extended transcripts and audio portions so our readers can hear the various viewpoints and judge the evidence for themselves.
To access our coverage, click here.
And as previously promised, LBReport.com has now posted links to the image of the AQMD Air Monitor strip, and our coverage of the LB conference, in a conspicuous spot on our front page (www.lbreport.com, right column). Yes, TFN.