Assemblyman Lowenthal Amends Parts of AB 2042 Re Zero Net Increase in Port Air Pollution
LB Harbor Commission Still Votes 5-0 To Oppose Bill Based On Old Text
LB Councilmembers Scheduled To Take Position Tuesday NiteReturn To Front Page
(May 3, 2004) -- One day before a scheduled LB City Council vote on a resolution to support state legislation requiring a zero net increase in air pollution from the Ports of LB and L.A., LB's Board of Harbor Commissioners voted (as sought by Port staff and maritime interests) to oppose AB 2042 by Assemblyman Alan Lowenthal (D, LB-SP-PV) and seek changes in the bill to the Port's liking.
The Harbor Commissioners' May 3 opposition vote came despite amendments to the bill made on the Assembly floor by Assemblyman Lowenthal on May 3. The amendments include:
- The South Coast Air Quality Management District may impose a fee on the cities of LB and L.A. to cover the costs of administering the bill (not to exceed administrative costs)
- The Ports of LB and L.A. "may establish an emission reduction credit trading program or an emission offset program" for certain sources if either the SCAQMD or CA Air Resources Board approve.
- The bill is intended "to grant only oversight authority" to the SCAQMD with respect to the baselines established by the Ports of LB and L.A. "based on their respective emission inventories."
- The baseline may only include the following air contaminants: (a) oxides of nitrogen; (b) particulate matter; (c) sulfur oxide; and (d) total hydrocarbons
To view the amended bill in full as amended May 3, 2004, click AB 2042 (as amended May 3).
The amendments were publicly conveyed in text form to the Harbor Commission at its May 3 meeting by Bridget Sramek of Assemblyman Lowenthal's LB district office, who also read the amendments at the podium. She said Assemblyman Lowenthal had reviewed the April 29 memo sent to Harbor Commissioners by PoLB staff [posted by LBReport.com in our previous coverage, linked below] and on May 3 on the Assembly floor took several amendments to AB 2042 "in an effort to address the specific concerns of groups that have voiced their opposition to this measure, including the PMSA [Pacific Merchant Shipping Ass'n] and the LB Area Chamber of Commerce."
Harbor Commissioner Mario Cordero urged withholding a Harbor Commission opposition vote in view of the ongoing amendment process...but Commissioner James Hankla indicated he considered AB 2042 "one of the more complex pieces of legislation the legislature will undertake in this particular legislative session" and said it required more time and study to avoid "unintended consequences," a theme to which he frequently returned. At one point, Commissioner Hankla quipped that an "unintended consequences analysis" might be appropriate for Sacramento legislation like an environmental impact analysis.
Commissioner Hankla added that in his view, opposing a bill in its current form is part of the "positive process of formulating legislation as it passes through Sacramento. To not take a position risks unintended consequences."
Among those testifying at the May 3 Harbor Commission meeting were:
- John DiBernardo, SSA terminals: "As one of your larger tenants, I urge you to oppose AB 2042...I think there's no other body out there that has the standing that the [Harbor] Commission has here today to oppose AB 2042...The Port is already taking the leadership role in reducing air emissions through its air quality improvement program...I think you have the high ground because of that. Therefore I encourage you to send a message to Mr. Lowenthal that he must abandon this reckless bill and instead follow your example of a more positive, constructive and more effective approach..."
- Michelle Grubbs, Pacific Merchant Shipping Association: "PMSA currently opposes AB 2042...The bill is still anti-competitive. It establishes a more stringent air emission policy for the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles than it does in any other port in California, and it still creates a vague, prohibitive obstacle to growth, and especially how would you handle...cargo demands during peak seasons..."
- Roger Holman, NLB resident: "I'm currently president of the Coolidge Triangle Association, approximately 550 homes in North Long Beach, although I'm not representing them directly here, we have talked about the Lowenthal bills in our meetings...I urge this body to support the Alan Lowenthal bill...This bill makes sense...I have spoken to the Long Beach City Council about my concerns with increasing pollution and the effects it has on the community, especially children and senior citizens..."
Some salient excerpts of Harbor Commission discussion:
Commissioner Hankla: One of the things I like to do most in life is support Alan Lowenthal. We have supported each other on many issues...I have to say that in my forty-two years in government I have watched the legislature do many things, and many of those things had unintended consequences. Electrical deregulation for one. It wasn't sufficiently studied, to allow a reasonable analysis as to probable outcomes. I happen to believe that this is one of the more complex pieces of legislation the legislature will undertake in this particular legislative session. I believe that it needs more time, and more study, to determine what those unintended consequences might be. An "unintended consequence analysis" might be something that would be appropriate for legislation like an environmental impact analysis. I would recommend that for Sacramento.
At this point in time, Mr. Chairman, I'm really not in a position to be able to support the legislation, although I fondly hope to be able to do so in the future, and I think the roadway to that is careful work and analysis with Assemblyman Lowenthal's staff, and other knowledgeable, port industries, but I don't think we should do something because at the moment it is politically correct."
Commissioner Cordero: ...If I heard [the Assemblyman's office representative] correctly, the bill as proposed is in the midst of changes...Right now I feel that there is ongoing discussions, there is an ongoing amendment process in which some of these concerns can be addressed unless I'm told differently, because if that's the case, then I don't see why we should take an action one way or the other this afternoon, as opposed to perhaps further studying this issue but more importantly going to the table with the parties...
[after intervening colloquy]
Commissioner Hankla: ...If I read this correctly the way it currently stands, with this baseline that would be established, which would include emissions from trucks as well as locomotives, and of course one of our major efforts is to improve the productivity of our current terminals by increasing ondock rail. And in increasing ondock rail we improve not only the economics but the air quality responsiveness of the Alameda Corridor. My recollection is that every locomotive which is evolving to cleaner locomotives, would replace 250 trucks on the freeway. Now how that would balance out in terms of this legislation is one of these unknowables at this point that I believe is a reasonable subject for intense analysis.
And I get back to my call for an "unintended consequence analysis" of this, because I think there are pieces and parts of this that may not be consistent with even what the Assemblyman wants to accomplish...
[Motion] Commissioner Calhoun: I'll make a motion to oppose [the bill] as presently written with the understanding that we will continue to work with the author and hopefully the author this time will work with us as opposed to the last time we tried to work on 2056 [means AB 2650, truck idling bill] in trying to sort out what concerns we have, and what the concerns our tenants and so forth have, so I would make a motion to oppose it as written with that understanding. (seconded by Hankla)
Commission president Hancock: (restates motion)...that the Board of Harbor Commissioners formally oppose AB 2042 as it is currently written and work with the author toward a more prudent and acceptable bill in the future.
Commissioner Cordero: ...I wasn't addressing the question of whether we should oppose it or we should support it. I'm just saying that because of the issues that are being addressed as we speak apparently, we should refrain from taking a posture at this point until we've had the opportunity to discuss further with staff, and if in fact the Assemblyman is willing to come to the table with us to discuss some of these amendments, and if we're able to do that, then of course I think we're meeting our obligation to really work intricately with the parties concerned to address this legislation...
Commissioner Hankla: ...I think the nature of the legislative process in Sacramento is worth noting. It is frequently necessary to take a position in opposition to secure the interchange that is needed to perfect a piece of legislation. So my view in opposing a bill in its current form at any given time is exercising part of the positive process of formulating legislation as it passes through Sacramento. To not take a position risks unintended consequences.
Commissioner Cordero ultimately voted with his colleagues (5-0) to oppose the bill but work with the author for changes.
Today's May 3 Harbor Commission vote effectively puts the Port of LB for a second time on a collision course with another entity of the City of LB: City Hall as governed by LB's elected City Council. A similarly schizoid situation arose in August 2002 over then-proposed legislation by Assemblyman Lowenthal to limit truck idling at the ports.
One day before an August 2002 Council vote on a resolution to support Lowenthal's truck idling bill, LB's Board of Harbor Commissioners (echoing arguments advanced by some Port interests) passed a resolution opposing the bill. Assemblyman Lowenthal ultimately amended his bill to the point where opposition ended and the bill passed the state legislature and is the law today.
Under LB's City Charter, "all powers of the City shall be vested in the City Council" except as otherwise provided in the Charter. The Charter grants "exclusive control and management of the Harbor Department" to the Board of Harbor Commissioners. LBReport.com has listed the Harbor Commission's exclusive powers and duties under the City Charter on a special page; to view it (a separate window will open for you), click here.
On Tuesday May 4, LB's elected City Council is scheduled to vote on a resolution (full text below) backing AB 2042. In response to a unanimous April 20 Council vote, the resolution drafted by the City Attorney's office would declare that the "City Council supports AB 2042 in order to protect public health and safety by avoiding an increase in air pollution from the ports of San Pedro Bay" and direct the City Clerk to transmit a copy of the resolution "to the Governor, to the members of the California Legislature representing the Long Beach and Los Angeles areas, and any other officials, agencies, entities, and individuals as may be deemed appropriate."
On March 9, 2004, Councilmembers Bonnie Lowenthal, Tonia Reyes Uranga and Val Lerch sought Council support for Assemblyman Lowenthal's AB 2041, 2042 and 2043 (collectively dubbed the "California Ports, Community Partnership" package).
AB 2041 would put a fee on containers shipped by truck in both ports between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday. AB 2042 is the "no net increase" in air pollution bill. AB 2043 establishes a CA Maritime Strategic Port Master Plan Task Force to consider (among other things) port growth, security, environmental concerns, coordination with other state ports and other topics. Resolutions supporting each of the three bill are agendized for separate Council votes at the May 4 Council meeting.
The proposed Council resolution for AB 2042 states in pertinent part:
RESOLUTION OF THE CITY COUNCIL OF THE CITY
OF LONG BEACH URGING THE CALIFORNIA STATE
LEGISLATURE TO ENACT ASSEMBLY BILL 2042
WHEREAS, Harbor Departments of the Cities of Los Angeles and Long Beach predict that truck traffic to and from the ports of San Pedro Bay will more than
double in the next 20 years from roughly 35,000 trucks to nearly 83,000 trucks per day; and
WHEREAS, ships and trucks emit air contaminants, including oxides of
nitrogen, carbon dioxide, and particulate matter; and
WHEREAS, state air regulators have stated that diesel engine exhaust
poses a serious health risk, that it increases chances of lung cancer, intensifies asthma
attacks and in some studies has been linked to infant mortality; and
WHEREAS, a landmark study conducted by the South Coast Air Quality
Management District entitled, "Multiple Air Toxics Exposure Study" or MATES 11,
attributed 70% of all health risks from mobile sources in the South Coast Basin to diesel
WHEREAS, AB 2042 would require a zero net increase in air pollution as
the ports of San Pedro Bay grow and expand.
NOW, THEREFORE, the City Council of the City of Long Beach resolves
Section 1. That the City Council supports AB 2042 in order to protect public health and safety by avoiding an increase in air pollution from the ports of San Pedro Bay.
Sec. 2. That the City Clerk is directed to transmit a copy of this resolution
to the Governor, to the members of the California Legislature representing the Long Beach and Los Angeles areas, and any other officials, agencies, entities, and individuals as may be deemed appropriate.
Sec. 3. This resolution shall take effect immediately upon its adoption
the City Council, and the City Clerk shall certify to the vote adopting this resolution.
On Friday April 30, the LB Area Chamber of Commerce weighed in with an email action alert urging opposition to AB 2042.
May 1, 2004: LB Port & LB Council On Collision Course -- Again -- This Time Over Assemblyman Lowenthal's AB 2042 For Zero Net Increase In Port Air Pollution
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