State Senator Lowenthal Introduces Five Bills Re Harbor Air Quality -- "Harbor Area Air Quality Investment Initiative" -- Including Reintroduction of "No Net Increase" Bill Backed in '04 By Council, Opposed By PoLB & Vetoed By Governor
(February 22, 2005) -- State Senator Alan Lowenthal (D., LB) has introduced five bills regarding Harbor Air Quality, deemed his "Harbor Area, Air Quality Investment Initiative.
- SB 760 would impose a fee on containers transported through the Ports of LB and L.A. The fee would go to programs that Sen. Lowenthal's office says "would improve air quality, improve port security and improve the transportation infrastructure by funding rail improvements to move more cargo by rail."
- SB 761 would "make improvements to recent truck idling legislation (authored by then-Assemblyman Lowenthal) so that the appointments "are better utilized and to help create greater efficiency within the ports."
- SB 762 would create a port congestion and environmental quality district which would reduce the overall truck fleet "by not letting the dirtiest trucks into the ports."
- SB 763 would require the ports to develop a system giving priority to berthing to ships using low-sulfur fuel. "During the peak season there could be up to 90 ships waiting off the coast, this bill rewards those ships using a cleaner fuel by allowing them to go to the front of the line," a release from Sen. Lowenthal's office says.
- SB 764...which revives legislation authored by then-Assemblyman Lowenthal in 2004 that sought to establish a baseline for "no net increase" in air pollution from the Ports of LB and L.A. In 2004, Lowenthal's AB 2042 (supported by the South Coast Air Quality Management District and the LB City Council) cleared both houses of the state legislature with opposition from the Port of LB and the LB and CA Chambers of Commerce. Gov. Schwarzenegger vetoed the bill.
Senator Lowenthal's office says the reintroduced "no net increase" bill, SB 764, will "provide accountability to the emissions problems at the ports." In a written release, Senator Lowenthal's office notes that when Gov. Schwarzenegger vetoed AB 2042, he said he was directing Cal/EPA to come up with a program to improve the air quality. "SB 764 will help ensure that those promises are kept." Senator Lowenthal said in the release. He continued:
"This is most ambitious set of bills I have ever introduced," said state Senator Lowenthal. "While I understand that I am facing an uphill battle against the business community, I have an obligation to raise these issues. These bills aim to improve many facets of the goods movement chain, and if implemented, will dramatically reduce diesel emissions in this region."
The Port's opposition to Lowenthal's 2004 "no net increase" measure, followed by Gov. Schwarzenegger's veto, prompted some LB Councilmembers to indicate a willingness to use the Council's budget approval process to make Port lobbying consistent with Council policy. Harbor Commissioners (Mayor appointed, Council approved) responded by indicating that if the Council didn't approve the Port's budget "as submitted" (i.e. with sums for lobbying as the Port desired), the Port might reconsider its plans to transfer about $6 million in surplus funds to the Tidelands Operating fund.
Councilmembers backed down...but the issue has gained momentum from L.A. Mayor James Hahn's call for "no net increase" in air pollution from the Port of Los Angeles. A Port of L.A, Task Force is currently putting the finishing touches on a package of measures it hopes will accomplish this.
LB Mayor Beverly O'Neill has not advanced a similar initiative or publicly called for "no net increase" in air pollution from the Port of LB.