Bill's author, Ass'yman Alan Lowenthal, responds
(August 31, 2004) -- In a high visibility showdown that will now inevitably involve CA Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, Port of LB Executive Director Richard Steinke has said he wants the Governor to veto AB 2042, a bill intended to keep Port growth from increasing air pollutants beyond 2004 levels.
The bill is supported by the LB's elected City Council and the South Coast Air Quality Management District (AQMD) but is opposed by the Port's current non-elected (Mayor chosen, Council approved) Board of Harbor Commissioners, shipping interests and the LB and CA Chambers of Commerce.
Mr. Steinke's statement came in response to Q & A during a media availability after an August 30 press event announcing that cold ironing (using shoreside electrical power at berth instead of polluting shipboard engines) will begin at British Petroleum's PoLB terminal T121 in roughly two years. LB Mayor Beverly O'Neill was present during the availability and also offered her views. We post a transcript of the fast moving extemporaneous exchange below.
The policy collision over AB 2042 marks the second time in recent years that the governing body of the Port of LB has voted to oppose anti-pollution legislation favored by the legislative body of CA's fifth largest city.
In August 2002, LB's Port opposed another Lowenthal anti-pollution bill (limiting truck idling time at the Ports) which LB's City Council supported. Assemblyman Lowenthal amended the legislation to the point where opposition ended and the bill passed the state legislature and is the law today.
Assemblyman Lowenthal, who has called AB 2042 the most important bill he's ever introduced, also amended AB 2042 -- including changing its pollution baseline from 2002 to 2004 -- but the the LB Area Chamber of Commerce, CA Chamber of Commerce and industry groups continue to oppose the measure.
AB 2042 recently passed the Assembly and state Senate and is headed to Gov. Schwarzenegger...who must either sign it, veto it...or let it become law without his signature.
During last year's recall of Gov. Gray Davis, Schwarzenegger's campaign web site ("joinarnold.com") included the following in its Agenda to Bring California Back.
Mr. Steinke: Deborah, what I would tell the Governor is that the Port of Long Beach and the Board of Harbor Commissioners have not disagreed with the intent of the legislation but we are in disagreement with the way the legislation was written. We would encourage in our discussion with the Governor that we move forward with the California Air Resources Board on any form of understanding, or Memorandum of Agreement, or executive order that would move us towards meeting targets and moving forward with air quality.
Ms. Schoch: So taking that one piece, the MOU [Memorandum of Agreement] of the legislation...
Mr. Steinke: That's correct...
Ms. Schoch: ...but without the mandate, the cap at 2004 levels.
Mr. Steinke: We are an agency of limited jurisdiction and we just received a letter recently from the California Air Resources Board that said we could not implement a voluntary air quality tariff in our tariff number four. So they are the ones that have spoken and said there are certain things that we can do and can't do. We would explain that to the Governor.
Ms. Schoch: My understanding is the CARB has not taken a position on this bill. Is that your understanding?
Mr. Steinke: I don't know, I've not checked that to see if CARB has taken a position or not.
Ms. Schoch: Well do you think that a 2004 cap is feasible if cold ironing seems so promising at this moment? I mean if you did do serious cold ironing for the major container ships, could you make the 2004 limit feasible?
Mr. Steinke: You know, I don't have the documentation or the scientific information to be able to tell you yes or no.
Mayor O'Neill: I think that 2004 is pretty aggressive and I agree with the intent, but I think the process needs to be explained a little better on how we could actually get there...
Mr. Schoch: ...OK, at this point then, do you oppose 2042 then?
Mayor O'Neill: No, I'm in favor of the intent, but not the process yet, at this time.
Ms. Schoch: OK, so 2042 in particular...
Mayor O'Neill: With the timing...
Ms. Schoch: With the timing, you don't support at this point with that 2004...
Mayor O'Neill: Well as Mr. Steinke said, we have authority over some jurisdictions and some not...
LBReport.com: The Council is on record supporting the bill but the Port is on record opposed. Just specifically, have you communicated or will you be communicating with the Governor to sign it, let it go into law without his signature or veto it?
Mayor O'Neill: We haven't determined a direction as far as after we have agreed with it. We have already agreed with it and that has been sent forward. Is that what you're asking?
LBReport.com: So what is Mayor O'Neill going to do?
Mayor O'Neill: Well I'm following what the Council is doing. I also feel, I agree with it, but I'm just talking about the process of making sure that it can be implemented.
LBReport.com: So would you be encouraging him to sign the bill, let it go into law without his signature, or...
Mayor O'Neill: I think he has to know what it entails.
LBReport.com: That's short of a direct answer. So veto, sign or let it go into law without his signature?
Mayor O'Neill: You know, we will send him our information and the best information that we can give him on what the Council has decided on and the Port will also do the same thing.
LBReport.com: We meaning the Mayor's office?
Mayor O'Neill: No, the Council, for the Council.
LBReport.com: You would not independently be talking to him?
Mayor O'Neill: No, I don't talk independently on things like this.
LBReport.com [to Mr. Steinke]: And the Port?
Mr. Steinke: The Port has stated its position and at this point, again, we agree with the intent of the legislation but the legislation, specifically, we've gone on record to say we oppose it and we still do.
LBReport.com: Will you urge a veto?
Mr. Steinke: Absolutely.