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CA Ports: Move The Goods, But Hold The Pollution

July 21, 2008

Sacramento, CA - Move the goods, but hold the pollution. That's the idea behind state legislation to improve air quality at California's ports.

Los Angeles, Long Beach and Oakland are home to three of the nation's busiest ports; as a result, they have some of the country's least healthy air. Senator Alan Lowenthal says his bill (SB 974) would lead to a reduction of the air pollution, caused by shuttling cargo to and from the ports in diesel-fueled trucks, trains and ships.

"Californians are very serious about not only being a logistic center, but moving away from 19th Century technology to 21st Century technology, and doing it in a way that protects our citizens and gets a lot of trucks off the freeway."

The California Air Resources Board estimates that port pollution causes 2,400 premature deaths per year in the state. Lowenthal believes those numbers may be even higher, and that the pollution-related problems reach beyond the ports.

"The largest single cause of premature deaths from particulates are caused by moving goods. Yes, there are higher concentrations as you get closer and closer to the ports and the freeways, but no one is safe."

If approved, a $30 fee would be charged for each shipping container; the fees would be used to update infrastructure and ease congestion. Opponents of SB 974 argue that it would increase the cost of importing and exporting goods, but the bill has passed the Assembly and could be headed to the Governor's desk this week.

More information about the bill can be found online, at www.sen.ca.gov or on the Web site of the California League of Conservation Voters, at www.ecovote.org.

Lori Abbott/Steve Powers, Public News Service - CA