(April 13, 2007) -- State Senator Alan Lowenthal (D., LB-SP-PV) has added verbiage to his "Port Investment" bill (SB 974) that would let the California Transportation Commission (CTC), the non-elected state body responsible for allocating funding for highway and other projects, decide if the Ports of LB and L.A. meet Port-decided pollution "emission reduction goals" in a Port-written "Clean Air Action Plan," a non-binding document that the Ports have indicated they may revise in the future.
The legislative amendment (text below) specifies CTC's decision would come after the Ports submit a report stating if they believe they've met their Plan's "goals" for certain pollution sources in designated future years.
The amendment requires withholding money for Port-related infrastructure projects (funded by a container fee created by the bill) if the CTC decided the Ports haven't met their emission reduction goals...but exempts all "projects that have already been awarded funding" [presumably meaning funding couldn't be withheld for projects already started by the designated future years].
Meanwhile, LB Harbor Commission President James C. Hankla indicated during an April 9 Commission discussion of the bill that he favors amendments to it...including one that would facilitate using container fees collected under Sen. Lowenthal's legislation to fund a new version of the Gerald Desmond bridge.
The bridge project is considered key to Port capacity expansion since it would let new mega-container ships -- carrying significantly more containers than the largest vessels currently seen -- into the Port of LB's inner harbor.
Port action seeking amendments could come at its April 16 Harbor Commission meeting...one day before the Lowenthal bill gets its first Sacramento hearing.
The Port's desire for explicit amendments differs from the City Council, which on March 20 effectively gave a "blank check" endorsement to Sen. Lowenthal's bill without amendments or conditions. Certain changes sought by Councilwoman (and AQMD boardmember) Tonia Reyes Uranga were relegated to a cover-letter...and a Port of LB analysis of the Lowenthal bill now lists the City of LB's position as "support" without mentioning any Council-desired changes.
The Council endorsement came before Sen. Lowenthal amended it...and before a Port-desired amendment to facilitate using the container fee to fund the capacity-expanding Desmond bridge project was explicitly discussed.
LBReport.com posts the text of Sen. Lowenthal's salient amendment below:
(e) On January 1, 2009, and annually thereafter, the Ports of Long
Beach and Los Angeles shall report to the commission on the
implementation of the Final 2006 San Pedro Bay Clean Air Action Plan.
Each port shall report to the commission on whether the emission
reduction goals for the source specific categories have been achieved
(1) Heavy-duty vehicles by 2011.
(2) Cargo handling equipment, 2010, 2012, and 2014.
(3) Harbor craft, 2008 and 2011.
(4) Locomotives, 2008, 2011, and 2014.
If any of the source specific emission reduction goals have not
been met, the commission shall not award funding to any project, and
the commission shall not fund any further projects until the source
specific emission reduction goals are achieved, other than projects
that have been awarded funding prior to this finding.
The full text of Sen. Lowenthal's "Port Investment" bill as amended can be viewed at SB 974 (as amended April 9).