AQMD Executive Officer Says PoLB Should Adopt Specific Clean Air Measures Like L.A. Port's "No Net Increase" And...
(Oct. 15, 2005) -- The Executive Officer of the South Coast Air Quality Management District (AQMD) has said the Port of LB should develop a "no net increase" plan similar to the L.A. task force plan for the Port of L.A., in similarly detailed form and with a timetable for implementing its measures.
Speaking at an October 12 L.A. hearing of the Assembly Transportation Committee chaired by Assemblywoman Jenny Oropeza (D., Carson-LB), AQMD Executive Officer Dr. Barry Wallerstein (D. Env). testified:
Dr. Wallerstein:...When we think of goods movement, we think of it as one of the last frontiers of pollution sources that are weakly controlled to uncontrolled, and in fact if we are to strive and reach clean air, frankly this source category needs to be addressed above probably all others. Otherwise, in baseball parlance, it'll be "game over"...
...The first step should be the implementation of the "no net increase" plan for the Port of Los Angeles, and the development of a similar, detailed plan for the Port of Long Beach with a timetable for implementation of the measures.
Incorporated within those plans should be full use of what we believe is newly recognized, leveraging power that the Ports have as landlords over their tenants to require community benefit clauses, things like cold ironing [shoreside plug in power], alternative fuel dock equipment and so on. That can be a very powerful that, in our view, legally addresses previous concerns about issues such as [federal law] preemption.
At the hearing, Assemblywoman Oropeza announced the broad outlines a major clean-air initiative she intends to pursue in the coming months that would fund multiple air-cleaning measures using proceeds from the sale of bonds.
As separately reported by LBReport.com, the CA Air Resources Board has released a draft Diesel Particulate Matter Exposure Assessment Study related to the Ports of LB and L.A., indicating estimated heightened cancer risks in a 20-mile by 20-mile study area affecting WLB, downtown LB, shoreline bluff, Belmont Shore, Bixby Knolls and ELB/Los Altos areas...and beyond.
The "no net increase" in measures recommended for the Port of L.A. came after years of study by a task force named by then-L.A. Mayor Jim Hahn. Its report was released in the final days of the Hahn administration...and its recommendations have not been formally adopted.
The new chair of L.A.'s Harbor Commissioners appointed by Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa has indicated that he favors going beyond "no net increase" and having the Port of L.A. develop a more aggressive program to reduce, not just maintain, levels of toxic emissions.
The Port of LB didn't formally participate in L.A.'s No Net Increase Task Force although staff monitored some of its proceedings and reviewed the Task Force Report. Instead, in early 2005 LB's Harbor Commission adopted a Green Port resolution that stops short of committing to "no net increase" in pollution (or a net decrease in pollution) but recites fidelity to environmentally friendly principles that the Port of LB will follow.
On October 1, as previously reported by LBReport.com, the Port of LB held an ambitious, unprecedented (and Harbor Commission President Doris Topsy-Elvord says first annual) public open-house devoted to showcasing its commitment to its Green Port policies. The Port has also recently upgraded its website (www.polb.com) which now features a prominent, top of the page link to "Green Port, Environmentally Friendly Initiatives."
And the Port has begun producing a television program, "Pulse of the Port," aired locally on Charter cable channel 8 and streamed on the Port's website for worldwide on-demand access) which has devoted time to discussing PoLB's Green Port policies.
And in an August 26 press event announcing the phase-in of cleaner-diesel in-port switching locomotives, LB Harbor Commission VP James Hankla said, "The Ports are...in a great race to see who will be the cleanest fastest. I think Long Beach will win, but I'm delighted to have Los Angeles in the race." He added, "We are not in denial here. We understand what the problems are. We understand what needs to be done. We are setting about doing it with our partners in the Port of Los Angeles."
At the Assembly Transportation Committee hearing convened to discuss the "The Human Side of Goods Movement: Responding to the Health Effects," Dr. Wallerstein also made mention of a "near-dock" truck to rail container transfer yard proposed in Los Angeles on the border of WLB which would service the Ports of L.A. and LB.
...We believe that on-dock [rail] facilities is a feasible alternative that should be looked at, and we hope that they will do that. We think that there are other mitigation measures that should be incorporated in that process, and I can assure the Committee that our agency is putting more resources to ensuring that as a responsible agency we're fully doing what needs to be done in the CEQA context...
...We also noted with interest that BNSF noted that this new railyard would have all natural gas equipment. Our question is, why don't all of the existing yards use this less polluting equipment? Why is it only for a newly proposed yard that we would have such a proposal?
Dr. Wallerstein's statements carry added punch with news that for the first time since the late 1970s, AQMD's governing board will hold its full board meeting outside its headquarters...and will do so in the City of Long Beach.
On November 4, 2005 from 9:00 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., AQMD's Governing Board will conduct its regular monthly meeting in the Long Beach City Council Chambers at 333 W. Ocean Blvd.
In a written release, AQMD says that in addition to three significant rules on the board's agenda "affecting refinery flares, cement plants and toxic-emitting facilities near schools" AQMD's board will "address the issue of air pollution at the ports through a special public comment period from approximately 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
AQMD Governing Board Chairman William Burke is slated to make keynote remarks about the scope of the air pollution problem at the ports and what he would like to see accomplished in the near future to reduce port emissions, the agency says in a written release.
In addition, AQMD will hold a Town Meeting on Wednesday, October 19 from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. at St. Lucy's Church in LB. AQMD staff says it expects the "issue of BNSF’s proposed near-dock rail facility will likely be raised by residents attending the meeting."
At the October 12 Assembly Committee hearing, chair/Assemblywoman Jenny Oropeza (D., Carson-LB) announced plans for a bond measure (specifics to be worked out) in the range of $2-$5 billion (which would have to be approved by 2/3 of the legislature, signed by the Governor, and approved by voters no earlier than June 2006). In broad terms (details pending) the measure would fund grants to replace high-polluting diesel engines under the Carl Moyer Program, retrofit or replace the dirtiest school buses that don’t meet federal emission and safety standards, purchase and scrap gross-emitting, junk cars, increase the use of electric power to marine vessels (cold ironing) and award grants to local agencies for a newer, super efficient breed of passenger cars ("plug-in" hybrids).
"We simply cannot wait any longer for California’s top policy makers to lay the framework to protect our residents from the ever-increasing health dangers from air pollution," Assemblywoman Oropeza said. "It will take money and courage to attack air pollution, and it won’t be cheap. This plan will be criticized by those who favor dollars over people and the ability of our children to breathe and lead healthy lives. Those are misplaced priorities. Let the debate begin."
Dr. Wallerstein said during the Assembly committee hearing there are technologies in use elsewhere that aren't being implemented in California: particulate filters on locomotives being used in Europe, Switzerland, Germany and elsewhere, he said, adding "We think they need to be utilized here."
He added that selective "catalytic reduction is being used in a very limited scale for large oceangoing vessels visiting the Bay Area. That should be done on a broader scale; it's being done in Europe."
Dr. Wallerstein said AQMD believes "the state and federal government need to take a more supportive role in actions that we can take at the local level, rather than being obstacles to those actions, whether it's local rules like we're pursuing for the rail industry or actions that might be occurring in the Ports as the Ports use their special authority, especially in that landlord-tenant relationship."
With respect to the recent controversial CARB Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with CA railroads, Dr. Wallerstein noted that CARB's governing board is scheduled to hold an October 27 hearing on whether to continue the MOU or rescind it. "Our [AQMD] governing board is requesting that the CARB board rescind the item," Dr. Wallerstein said, "because it contains a number of provisions that frankly just are not stringent enough, but most importantly contains a poison pill provision that's intended to discourage new legislation and action by local agencies such as ours to adequately control railroads...We would encourage this Committee, should that hearing go in a manner where they continue with the MOU, to conduct a hearing to gather more information about the railroad MOU."
Dr. Wallerstein also told the Committee that "there were a number of important [CA] bills this year that became two year bills [i.e. they're still pending] that would provide substantial improvement and movement in the way of clean up in the goods movement area...the chair's [Oropeza] AB 1101 and Senator Lowenthal's SB 760 [container fee bill]. We need to have that sort of legislation move forward as you complete this two-year legislative cycle."
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