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    An Overdue Limit On Port Pollution...And Growth

    (March 26, 2007) -- Last year, do you recall Bonnie Lowenthal, Suja Lowenthal, Gary DeLong, Gerrie Schipske, Tonia Reyes Uranga or Val Lerch supporting the use of public money to build infrastructure to accommodate private firms using the Port of Long Beach even if the net result worsens pollution for LB families and businesses?

    We don't. During the 2006 election cycle, it was City of LB policy -- via multiple City Council votes spanning several years -- to support Sacramento legislation to make "no net increase" in Port air pollution a matter of state law.

    Now that's threatened...and we are on the verge of letting others cement LB's future as L.A. County's Port-freeway-railroad-industrial air sump with conditions even worse than they are now.

    Last month, defied a civic code of silence by factually reporting that State Senator Alan Lowenthal (D., LB-SP-PV) had failed to reintroduce his "no net increase" in Port air pollution bill (opposed by industry interests, killed by Democrat leaders in the state Assembly).

    For nearly a month, the story has gone virtually unreported by every other LB media outlet (fine with us), a de facto code of silence that lets Council incumbents evade accountability for failing to take action in response (not fine with us).

    Uncontrolled growth is malignant growth. Dispensing billions in public money to grow infrastructure without legally enforceable limits against making things worse -- is malignant. It is civic quackery, akin to medieval bleeding as a cure, to pretend otherwise.

    Basic economics says that if you subsidize something, you'll have more of it. That is what Sen. Lowenthal invited when he endorsed November's Port infrastructure bond, written on his watch by leaders of his own party, without including enforceable net pollution protections for his constituents.

    Sen. Lowenthal and Mayor Bob Foster are now pleading in Sacramento for a legislative patch they think can minimize the damage. reported this too, in detail that others didn't, and we wish the Mayor and Senator good luck.

    But in our view, their attempted Sacramento patch (which may end up less than optimal or may never be) is no substitute for real statutory, legal protection against worsened net pollution that residents of the City of LB deserve -- now more than ever.

    If there are incumbents LB's City Council who think their job is to let this City's Port (whose budget they approve) grow without enforceable, statutory legal limits on pollution, the public has a right to know who they are.

    We urge LB groups directly affected -- Wrigley Ass'n, WLB Ass'n, WECA and DLBA -- to make clear to their Council reps (and 6th district Council candidates) that they won't let LB's Council weasel out of its words...and they insist that their city remain unambiguously on record -- via a Council adopted resolution -- supporting state legislation to enact a "no net increase" mechanism regarding Port-related air pollution.

    It takes one Councilmember to agendize this, and two (a motion and a second) to force a Council vote. We favor agendizing this for the next Council meeting on April 3...while LB voters mull ballot measures that include Prop B to create machinery empowered to bestow a whopping Council pay raise. does not support faith-based policies and we don't respect sacred cows. We supported Sen. Lowenthal (more than others) when we he made sense on this subject. We are appalled by what we hear from him now.

    After the clumsy statement he sent an aide to deliver at the March 20 Council meeting (we'll demolish it separately), we are more certain than ever that someone placed a giant body-snatching seed pod next to him.

    He looks like Alan Lowenthal but his words now seem to come from somewhere else. We hope Sen. Lowenthal will snap out of this, but in the meantime will continue to report what's really going on.

    While we applaud the new technologies that the Port of LB says it embraces with its "Green Port" policies, the Port's actions are sending a different message. Despite the new technologies, and despite billions of dollars in publicly-paid infrastructure (for "faster freight, cleaner air"), LB's port continues to refuse to accept a legally binding statutory obligation to deliver a net result of cleaner air.

    If the Ports of LB/L.A. really believed their pro-expansion "Clean Air Action Plan" would deliver the net result of cleaner air, they would publicly endorse, instead of quietly resist, legally enforceable net pollution limits. Yes, SCAQMD thinks it can enact "back-stop" measures to deter the Ports' from ignoring their Plan's measures, but those goal posts can be moved too.

    In July 2006, Alan Lowenthal publicly testified to reps from the Ports of LB/L.A., SCAQMD, CARB and U.S. EPA that the Ports' "Clean Air Action Plan" isn't enough, that the public needed no net increase legislation to ensure accountability and enforcement.

    But that was before someone arrived with the body-snatching seed pod.

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