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    Assemblyman Lowenthal, Councilwoman Reyes Uranga & Clean Air Advocates Hold San Pedro Press Event Urging Gov. Schwarzenegger To Sign AB 2042 ("No Net Increase in Port Pollution")

    (Sept. 9, 2004) -- Assemblyman Alan Lowenthal (D., LB-SP-PV), accompanied by LB Councilwoman Tonia Reyes Uranga and representatives of the Coalition for Clean Air and Natural Resources Defense Council, held a San Pedro press event today, urging CA Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger to sign AB 2042, the "no net increase" in port air pollution bill.

    The legislation, authored by Assemblyman Lowenthal, requires the South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD) to establish a baseline for air quality at the Ports of LB and L.A. based on emission inventories completed by the ports. Once the baseline is established, the Ports would be required to control operations in a manner that doesnít exceed the baseline.

    "The Governor has stated that clean air is a birthright of every Californian and pledged to reduce air pollution by 50%. Signing AB 2042 would be a great first step toward achieving this worthy goal," said Assemblyman Lowenthal in a written release.

    "While I understand there is a tremendous amount of opposition from business interests on this bill, I am heartened to know that the Governor believes that we donít have to choose between protecting our environment and protecting our jobs. I look forward to him signing this bill," he added.

    In a written release, Assemblyman Lowenthal's office said:

    Of the sources at the ports, trucks and ships are the biggest polluters. The diesel trucks serving the ports emit approximately 47 tons of NOx each day just within port boundaries. This is out of a basin-wide total of 1,056 tons, according to the AQMD. Ships and commercial boats add another 49 tons a day, while an unknown portion of the 181 tons of NOx from diesel equipment also comes from the ports. Trains in the region add another 36 tons of NOx, some of which can be traced to old diesel locomotives at the ports.

    A study conducted by these ports predicts that heavy-duty vehicle traffic (powered by diesel fuel) to and from the ports will more than double in the next 20 years, from roughly 35,000 vehicles per day to nearly 83,000 vehicles per day.

    "Without this law, Southern Californians are going to breathe ever more soot and smog as the Ports of L.A. and Long Beach expand," said Todd Campbell, policy director at Coalition for Clean Air in the release.. "I strongly urge the governor to protect the health of Southern Californians by signing the Clean Ports bill," he added.

    "This bill is a critical test for Governor Schwarzenegger and his aspiration to be California's 'environmental governor,'" said NRDC senior attorney Gail Ruderman Feuer in the release. "The only way he can achieve his pledge of a 50 percent cut in air pollution is to take on emissions at the ports. We need him to stand up to the polluters telling him to veto this bill," she added.

    "Given the existing pollution and the projected growth at the ports, the time for action is now, said Assemblyman Lowenthal in the release. "The stakes are too high and the dangers too great. We must get our hands around this problem, and this bill will start to do just that," he added.

    On Sept 7, the LB City Council voted 8-0 (Councilwoman Bonnie Lowenthal absent for meeting) to urge Gov. Schwarzenegger to sign AB 2042. In May, the Council voted 8-0 (Councilman Frank Colonna absent for meeting) to support the bill while it was then pending in the legislature.

    The Port of LB, by its non-elected Board of Harbor Commissioners, has opposed the bill since May. On August 30, after its passage by the Assembly and state Senate, the Port of LB's Executive Director said he favors having the Governor veto the legislation.

    Reached for a quick comment after the event, LB Councilwoman Reyes Uranga told that the Council's Sept. 7 action was meant to "send a loud and clear message" of support for the legislation, adding "I hope the Governor will use his muscles to pick up his pen and sign the bill."

    Assemblyman Lowenthal released a written statement which we post in full below.

    [begin text]

    "AB 2042 is a smart growth measure. The bill simply states that as the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach grow and expand that they grow smartly, by simply not increasing their air pollution.

    "In July, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency declared that 13 California counties, including Los Angeles and Orange, are shrouded with unhealthy levels of fine particles and must reduce the deadly air pollutants or lose federal funding. The two worst areas in the country were the San Joaquin Valley and the greater Los Angeles area.

    "As we saw in the front page stories for both the Los Angeles Times and Long Beach Telegram [and], smog harms childrenís lungs for life. The author of the article published today in the New England Journal of Medicine [also reported on] concluded that because of health effects shown in the study, any expansion of the ports should be accompanied by stiffer pollution controls.

    "According to recent reports, the health impacts of diesel pollution is $21.5 billion per year in California. This report also showed that in 2004 alone, diesel pollution will cause an estimated 3,000 premature deaths in California-well above California's homicide rate.

    "AB 2042 is a reasonable measure. This bill does not stop growth at the ports and it does not conflict with the Clean Air Act. This bill simply says that the Ports should be good stewards and address the severe health impacts that port operations have on the surrounding community.

    "Governor Schwarzenegger has shown a commitment to the environment by appointing many strong environmental advocates to his staff. I hope that he would continue that commitment by signing this bill. While I understand there is strong opposition from many business groups, the Governor understands that that a strong business climate and a clean environment can co-exist. I look forward to him standing up for the people of the harbor area and signing this bill.

    "Finally, the report being issued today by the Coalition for Clean Air and the Natural Resources Defense Council will provide the Ports and the surrounding community with a road map towards being the good stewards they can be."

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