(September 17, 2005) -- 7th district Councilwoman Tonia Reyes Uranga has agendized an item for the Sept. 20 City Council meeting that seeks a resolution opposing the "Memorandum of Understanding" negotiated and signed by CA Air Resources Board (CARB) staff with BNSF and Union Pacific railroads -- a statewide agreement opposed by the South Coast Air Quality Management District (AQMD), multiple state and local officials and clean air activists who charge it undermines tougher local clean air standards and could neutralize advancing state legislation strengthening AQMD's ability to regulate RR emissions.
The Councilwoman also seeks a resolution supporting AQMD rules relating to diesel particulate control measures for clean urban transit buses, clean on-road solid waste collection vehicles, and clean on-road school buses for both public and private fleets,
Citing LB City Hall's 2010 Strategic Plan which includes the goal of improving air quality, Councilwoman Reyes Uranga says AQMD's enumerated concerns about the RR MOU in particular, as well as the agency's diesel particulate control measures for clean transit/school buses and trash trucks, "warrant consideration by the City Council as the primary impacts of these regional pollutants are immediate[ly] borne in our neighborhoods."
Councilwoman Reyes Uranga adds that "since the rail facilities exist to serve the Ports of LB/LA, we must ensure that the 2010 Plan's Strategic Action to develop, build, and lease versatile and efficient port facilities that make the maximum use of Port of Long Beach land (BI .7) is achieved with minimal impacts to the surrounding communities. I respectfully request that the City Council adopt a resolution in support of the AQMDs positions on the CARB/Railroads MOU and rules governing clean on-road fleets."
As previously reported by LBReport.com, the City of LB sent CARB a letter in late June, signed by Mayor Beverly O'Neill, expressing displeasure with the way CARB entered into the RR MOU and stating concerns about the MOU's effects.
As previously reported by LBReport.com, CARB subsequently agreed to hold two "public consultation" meetings on its RR MOU -- one of which took place on August 31 in the City of Commerce and drew roughly 300 people including state and local officials and/or their representatives, grassroots activists and members of the public.
Among those who spoke against the CARB-RR MOU at the meeting were Councilwoman Reyes Uranga via written testimony in advance of the meeting, Councilwoman Bonnie Lowenthal, whose testimony was submitted in writing and read aloud by her Chief of Staff, and Wrigley Association President Joan Greenwood who testified personally.
LBReport.com has separately provided extended audio coverage of the City of Commerce CARB meeting.
CARB and the RRs defend the MOU, saying it's the best way to produce emission reductions quickly without legislative wrangling or protracted rulemaking with the possibility of lawsuits and other challenges. AQMD officials dismiss the legal threats, say the CARB-RR MOU contains loopholes and ambiguities...and charge that the MOU's lesser statewide standards fail to reflect higher local pollution levels resulting from the Ports and their related goods movement operations.
Five entities testified at the City of Commerce CARB meeting in favor of the CARB-RR MOU: BNSF RR and UP RR (both parties to the MOU), the Ass'n of American RRs, the L.A. Chamber of Commerce...and the Pacific Merchant Shipping Association.
CARB is scheduled to hold a meeting on October 22 at its El Monte offices at which time the CARB Board will decide what, if anything, to do about its staff-negotiated RR MOU.
On September 15, CARB's governing board decided to wait before seeking EPA permission to adopt diesel fleet rules similar to AQMD's local diesel fleet rules on school buses and trash trucks...but did so for transit buses. CARB's board passed a resolution indicating it would consider state measures for school buses and trash trucks if AQMD's local rules for them (currently being challenged in court) are struck down.
We post the salient portions of Councilwoman Reyes Uranga's agendizing memo below:
The need to improve air quality is established under Environmental Goal E4 of the
City of Long Beach 2010 Strategic Plan. A specific Strategic Action was established under
the Environment Goals of the 2010 Plan to collaborate with the Air Quality Management
District (AQMD), Regional Water Quality Control Board, and other agencies in regional
efforts to reduce pollution. (E1 .9) The 2010 Plan also called for the Long Beach Unified
School District and Long Beach Transit to explore opportunities to reduce emissions from
diesel bus fleets through conversion to clean air technology or other means compatible with
operating and financial constraints. (E4.3)
The AQMD recently undertook significant measures that are consistent with the
goals of the 2010 Plan relative to diesel emissions from railroad operations and fleet
vehicles, including public transit and school buses. These actions include a formal request
to the California Air Resources Board (CARB) to delay the implementation of a
Memorandum of Understanding - for the purposes of conducting public hearings - between
CARB, the Burlington Northern Santa Fe and Union Pacific railroads that the AQMD
considers "deeply flawed and is fraught with problems which cut across legal, technical and
policy areas." The second action undertaken by the AQMD to improve air quality is the
recommendation to adopt rules relating to Diesel Particulate Control Measures for Clean
Urban Transit Buses, Clean On-Road Solid Waste Collection Vehicles, and Clean On-Road
School Buses, for both public and private fleets operating in the region.
These actions, particularly the MOU governing rail yard particulate emissions,
warrant consideration by the City Council as the primary impacts of these regional pollutants
are immediate borne in our neighborhoods. Additionally, since the rail facilities exist to
serve the Ports of LB/LA, we must ensure that the 2010 Plan's Strategic Action to develop,
build, and lease versatile and efficient port facilities that make the maximum use of Port of
Long Beach land (BI .7) is achieved with minimal impacts to the surrounding communities. I
respectfully request that the City Council adopt a resolution in support of the AQMDs
positions on the CARB/Railroads MOU and rules governing clean on-road fleets.
Suggested Action: Request the City Attorney to draft Resolutions:
1. To oppose the CARBlRailroad MOU governing diesel
particulate emissions from locomotives and equipment; and,
2. To support the AQMD rules relating to Diesel Particulate Control Measures for Clean Urban Transit Buses, Clean On-Road Solid Waste Collection Vehicles, and Clean On-Road School Buses for both public and private fleets.