WLB Residents Who Want Proposed BNSF Railyard In Port, Not Near Neighborhoods, Send Letter & Video To Investor Warren Buffett (Whose Company Has Major Share In BNSF); Video Includes WLB Ass'n Pres. John Cross & Other WLB Advocates
Coalition vows to travel to Omaha to coincide with Berkshire Hathaway's upcoming shareholder meeting (site of frequent nat'l media coverage)
|(April 26, 2012) -- A coalition of groups opposed to locating BNSF's proposed new railyard ("So. California Int'l Gateway") adjacent to WLB neighborhoods miles from arriving ships (instead of in the port where it could transfer containers directly onto trains) has sent a letter (text below) to investor Warren Buffett (CEO of company with controlling interest in BNSF) along with a video that shows affected areas and includes appearances by doctors, teachers and West Long Beach Ass'n President John Cross and other WLB residents.
And an April 26 release from the L.A. Port Working Group indocates that if Mr. Buffett continues to ignore the coalition's efforts, they will travel to Omaha, Nebraska in about two weeks to coincide with the annual shareholders' meeting of Mr. Buffett's company, Berkshire Hathaway, an event frequently drawing national media attenion.
The coalition favors locating BNSF's railyard in the Port itself where it could utilize "on-dock" rail, trasnfering containers directly from ships onto trains. BNSF proposes instead to build its railyard several miles inland on land owned by the Port of Los Angeles near WLB residential neighborhoods, which would require the continued use of trucks to haul containers from ships to its railyard as currently proposed.
"There is an alternative to the proposed railyard: the Port should build more railyard capacity right at the Port -- on its dock, rather than in our neighborhood -- so that cargo containers could be moved directly from ships onto BNSF trains," the release says. "More on-port rail would eliminate tens of thousands of truck trips and the accompanying pollution near our homes and schools. We would have as many new, good jobs as the polluting alternative, but without damaging the health of our families or imposing massive new health care costs on our community."
(The Port of Los Angeles has taken the position that land in the Port itself is unavailable.)
Among those appearing on the video is West Long Beach Ass'n President John Cross. "The Port of L.A. and the Port of Long Beach and the rail companies need to work together to put facilities in the Port," Mr. Cross says in the video.
Other WLB'ers appearing on the video include Beatriz Reyes and Evelyn Knight.
Several video speakers invite Mr. Buffett (in English and Spanish) to come to their neighborhoods and see the situation for himself...and the video ends with a slide stating, "Dear Mr. Buffett: Please visit our community and see for yourself why this is not the right place for a toxic railyard." And it cites a website: www.lb4health.org (which leads to the the website of the East Yard Communities for Environmental Justice).
In its release, the coalition charges BNSF's currently proposed location "would further damage public health and drive up already high health care costs by increasing residents’ exposure to the deadly fine particulate matter spewed by diesel trucks carrying shipping containers to and from the port."
When the coalition received no response to its letter (text below), it escalated its advocacy to include the video (with medical profesionals, community advocates, residents and children) and uploaded the video onto YouTube.com, where it is now accessible on-demand.
BNSF has previously argued that its proposed railyard will bring jobs and use cleaner equipment that produces less pollution than older equipment now used at its older railyard nearby. BNSF also says trucks used in process will be newer and cleaner and will use routes that avoid residential neighborhoods.
Opponents of the proposed facility dispute claims of less net pollution, arguing that new larger container ships mean larger container loads requiring more trucks...with a net result of more pollution, not less.
Supporters of the BNSF proposed facility include the Long Beach Area Chamber of Commerce [whose Board of Directors includes BNSF's Director of Government Affairs...who also serves as the LB Chamber's current Vice Chair for Public Policy] and several trade unions (who have argued that it will bring their members jobs in building the facility).
Long Beach Councilman James Johnson has urged evaluation of "zero emission" technology in connection with the project. When the Port of Los Angeles' draft Environmental Impact Report rejected "zero emission" technology as infeasible without evaluation, he and Councilwoman Rae Gabelich agendized an item to put the City of Long Beach on record in opposition to the facility as proposed. The City Council instead voted to direct city management to submit comments in the draft EIR proceeding (which were sharply critical of the draft EIR (and in particular its refusal to evaluate zero emitting technology.).
The LB Unified School District has also filed comments critical of the draft EIR for the railyard as proposed.
The coalition's letter to Mr. Buffett is reproduced below.
April 10, 2012
Developing...with further to follow on LBReport.com.
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