Councilwoman Reyes Uranga Submits Letter To CA Air Resources Bd. Opposing Its MOU With RRs In Present Form, Prefers Legislation And Regs, Or Alternatively MOU Modifications With Public Participation
(August 31, 2005) -- In advance of tonight's (Aug. 31) public consultation meeting in the City of Commerce, scheduled by the CA Air Resources Board concerning its controversial Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with railroad industry representatives, 7th district Councilwoman Tonia Reyes Uranga has submitted a letter to CARB for entry into the record making several points on behalf of her constituents.
The letter, dated August 26 and written on the Councilwoman's 7th district Council office letterhead, is addressed to CARB chair Cindy Tuck, and states:
On behalf of the 7th District constituents in the City of Long Beach, I would like
to address some critical issues regarding the recently negotiated Memorandum of
Understanding (MOU) between California Air Resources Board (CARB) staff and the
Union Pacific and Burlington Northern Santa Fe railroad companies. As you know,
continued air pollution from locomotives and railyards is a major health and safety
concern to the families I represent.
I was advised that after numerous letters and other statements of concern,
CARB recently acted to require Board ratification of any future staff-negotiated
MOUs or any amendments to existing MOUs. Furthermore, the CARB staff must
notify both the Board and the public when negotiations on new MOUs are initiated
and must solicit public comments.
I support this additional level of public participation and would urge CARB to
solicit comments from the Westside Long Beach community for consideration on all
matters pertaining to railyards. The area I represent is immediately adjacent to the
existing UP ICTF and proposed BNSF facilities. The direct impacts of railroads are
absorbed by seven schools, a citywide childcare facility, residential neighborhoods
and social services -- mitigation must acknowledge the 24-hour impacts of rail.
As you deliberate on further improvements to the MOU and/or other means to
reduce the health impacts of railroad operations, I urge you to consider the following
- The MOU in its present form is unacceptable; no MOU would be better
than the current MOU. This is especially true given the "poison pill
provision" in the MOU which allows the railroads to back out of their
obligations if any state, local or federal agency pursues a measure
directed at the same goals as the MOU. This provision must be removed.
- Legislation and regulations are preferred over an MOU, but if CARB
proceeds with the MOU, it must be modified with full public participation to
require enforceable emission reductions based on utilization of costeffective,
advanced and feasible technologies. There needs to be equity
between the levels of control required of local businesses and the
- The MOU is vague or otherwise deficient in many respects, including
health risk reduction and enforceability. For example, risk thresholds and
timelines must be set and enforceable risk reduction plans required.
Levels of penalties for violations must be commensurate with the levels
currently prescribed under law.
- Finally, CARB should withdraw its opposition to AB 888 and SB 459, and
issue support positions for these bills, as well as local efforts such as
South Coast AQMD proposed Regulation 35. These efforts offer the
potential for greater and more expeditious emission reductions and health
benefits than the corresponding provisions in the MOU. Communities that
are continuously exposed to toxic diesel emissions from locomotive and
railyard emissions need immediate relief.
In closing, I would like to thank you for recently scheduling Public
Consultation Meetings and a Board Hearing on the MOU which will allow for
questions and comments from the public. I plan on following the process to ensure
that the interests of the people I serve are protected and air pollution impacts of
railroad operations are reduced or mitigated to the fullest extent.
Tonia Reyes Uranga
Councilmember, 7th district
Cc: Chairman, BNSF
Executive Officer, SCAQMD
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