(March 19, 2007) -- Following a LBReport.com editorial that criticized State Senator Alan Lowenthal (D., LB-SP-PV) ["The Bodysnatchers Get Alan Lowenthal, And..."] for failing to reintroduce his "no net increase" bill, described Sen. Lowenthal's SB 974 as "a congestion of loopholes and rubbery references to non-binding clean air 'plans' easily evaded by the Ports, wrapped around guaranteed money for Port expansion" and said an SCAQMD committee advised seeking "amendments to the bill...while just supporting the legislation in principle," SCAQMD Executive Officer Dr. Barry Wallerstein forwarded what he called a clarifying note concerning SCAQMD's position on SB 974.
LBReport.com posts Dr. Wallerstein's statement in full below:
In your March 18, 2007, LB Report it was noted that the SCAQMD Legislative Committee adopted a position of support in concept for SB 974 (Lowenthal).
The AQMD Governing Board has supported user fees/container fees as a means of financing air pollution cleanup in the port area for the last several years. Our Legislative Committee is recommending to support Senator Lowenthal's continued efforts to secure funding for air pollution mitigation from goods movement related sources, including SB 974.
The Committee is, however, recommending several enhancements to the initial draft bill, including local official involvement in determination of appropriate mitigation expenditures, cost sharing for projects to be funded from the congestion relief fund, and a sunset date for fee collection tied to the implementation of the regional clean air plan.
In addition, it is important that any funded infrastructure projects not have adverse environmental justice impacts.
The AQMD Governing Board will consider the overall agency position on SB 974 at its April 6, 2007 meeting which will be the first opportunity for full Board action since this bill has appeared in print.
The Southern California Region will not be able to achieve clean air, due to in large part to goods movement activities, unless a user fee similar to that proposed in SB 974 is enacted. SB 974 is one of the most important clean air bills to be proposed in recent years and with a little fine tuning will provide tremendous public health benefits.
LBReport.com followed-up late in the afternoon Monday (March 19) by asking SCAQMD's press office to provide Dr. Wallerstein's position regarding the other major point in our editorial, to wit, reintroducing a "no net increase" statutory mechanism either in a stand alone bill or as part of some now pending legislation (like SB 974). LBReport.com will post this as received.
As noted in our March 18 editorial, on March 20 the LB City Council is scheduled to take up an item agendized by Vice Mayor Bonnie Lowenthal and Councilman Patrick O'Donnell proposing that the Council endorse SB 974.
In an email at midmorning March 19, Councilwoman Tonia Reyes Uranga, who is also a voting member of the SCAQMD governing board, indicated to LBReport.com that at the March 20 Council meeting she will be requesting "recommend to support [SB 974] with conditions" and the conditions will be to:
1) NOT tie the infrastructure and congestion relief projects to the near term CTC [CA Transportation Comm'n] project list; and
2) Request that given CARB's letter [reported first by LBReport.com] that AQMD and other non attainment areas be the recipient of air quality funds, not CARB.
Further as it breaks.